Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has once again restated that Nigeria would be self -sufficient in rice production by 2019.
The acting president made the statement yesterday in Abuja at the launch and official handover ceremony of Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) system developed through the Agricultural Market and Information System (AMIS) project to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Special Assistant to the President, Economy Management, Mr. Dolapoâ€Ž Bright, said that the federal governmentâ€™s effort to revolutionise agriculture and diversify the countryâ€™s economy was already paying off.
According to him, â€œthe effort is now paying off in so many ways, for example; the success with rice has been tremendous. It started with Kebbi , but when you look a rice now it has gone past Kebbi, you have Kano, Bauchi, Jigawa, doing well. You have all the States in the north that are now involved in rice. Apart from Ebonyi, even Bayelsa is also doing well in rice. Probably by 2019 we should be self- sufficient in rice.â€
Osinbajo however blamed the high cost of local production of rice on infrastructural deficit, especially roads connecting the hinterland to the city.
â€œWhen you look at the population of this country, the population is large, apart from that logistics. For example, you have farmers planting rice in Jigawa state and the rural roads that lead to the farm to get the products to the processing plant is bad, so that is part of the reason why government is putting a lot of money on infrastructure, then you are going to solve all these problems,â€ he said.
Earlier, the representative of Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Mr. Patrick David, said the AMIS CAPI system which cost $600,000 (N240 million) would provide an unparalleled access to agriculture data to various stakeholders across the country and in turn, bring remarkable growth to the agriculture sector.
â€ŽHe revealed that following the food crisis that caused extraordinary increase in the prices of food to about 150% in 2008; AMIS was established as an inter-agency Platform, to enhance food market transparency and encourage coordination of policy action in response to market uncertainty aâ€Žt the request of Agriculture Ministers of the G20 in 2011.
David stated: â€œToday, we bring to fore, a system that will bring about a paradigm shift in the way we collect and manage agriculture data in Nigeria. The excess produce of a farmer in Kano, might be key to fulfilling the scarcity of a factory in Kansas or Kentucky in the United States of America, thousands of miles away.â€
He stressed that through the use of data, businesses and certainly, players in the agriculture sector, are able to connect with a broader range of consumers and maximize profit, adding that the focus of AMIS was on four crops: wheat, maize, rice and Soyabeans.
â€œOur globally connected world gives us the opportunity of a mutually beneficial relationship. This relationship will further strengthen our capacity to prevent food price volatility and bolster our resolve for global food security,â€ David noted
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeâ€Ž said the only way agricultural production could be sustained was when the farmers can be able to reach out to various markets to sell their products â€Žand make some returns to enable them to invest
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Bukar Hassan stressed that the CAPI AMIS system offered aâ€Ž unique opportunity to move away from traditional marketing system to a more digital and sustainable method