The Federal Government has affirmed that Nigeria is closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production than at any time in the country’s history due to the government’s firm decision on border drill.
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture stated this during the week while addressing newsmen in Lagos on the major achievements of the President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration, stating that the effect of the border drill has been phenomenal and positive.
He said undoubtedly, one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration in Nigeria is the decision to embark on a border drill as part of measures to secure Nigeria’s land and maritime borders.
Mohammed said that the border drill has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalysed rice production by farmers across the country.
He claimed that visit by his team to some integrated rice mills as well as rice clusters in Kano showed that the rice mills are either operating at full capacity or have doubled their production.
According to him, “We recently visited some of Nigeria’s 34 integrated rice mills as well as rice clusters in Kano. The rice mills are either operating at full capacity or have doubled their production.
“Before the drill, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, but now six million people, mostly youths, are venturing into rice production. Before the drill, farmers were cultivating rice twice a year, now that has increased to three times a year and some rice farmers are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing,” he said.
The Minister also said that the integrated mills currently produce 150,000 bags of rice daily and about 35 million bags per annum, stressing that the border drill has curbed the smuggling of rice and other prohibited items into the country which led to significant seizures with the estimated monetary value of over N3,500,000billion.
“The preference for foreign goods, especially food items like rice, has continuously impoverished our farmers and adversely affected domestic government policies supporting the agricultural sector to enhance food security.
“Thanks also to the drill that rice production has received a massive boost, creating millions of jobs and moving Nigeria closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
Adding, “Many have called it border closure, but it is not. Recall, gentlemen, that the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security and intelligence agencies, commenced a joint border security exercise, code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response’ in four geopolitical zones of the country, namely; South-South, South West, North Central and North West on the 20th August 2019.
“The exercise is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and is aimed at better securing our borders to strengthen our economy and address other trans-border security concerns,” he added.