After meeting with governors of rice-producing states yesterday, the Federal Government has agreed to stop rice importation by 2017.
The meeting was held to enact a policy on agriculture and food sustainability, with a view to banning importation of rice into Nigeria in the next two years, with the condition that the ban will only take effect if it is able to develope local industries to produce maximally for local consumption.
The meeting which had in attendance permanent secretaries of relevant ministries and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was chaired by vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo.
Abdulaziz Yari, Zamfara state governor and chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, explained the outcome of the meeting to newsmen.
According to him: “we discussed how we can boost rice production in Nigeria and start thinking about how we are going to put policy in place on how rice importation will be banned in the country.
“We have the potential; we have the human resources; we have the arable land to grow rice.
“In the next two years, we will not need to bring rice from outside Nigeria. We are going to ban it. It is only in Nigeria, a country of millions of people, that there is no food security.
“The policy is going to be in place and we gave our commitment that we are ready to support the government policy in ensuring that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in food production in the next two years.”
When reminded of similar statements from other government officials in the past, Yari replied that the political will of the present administration would make the difference.
His words: “Nigeria is currently a major importer of rice. Now, the political will is in place to stop it. We in about nine states are going to be seriously engaged in massive rice production.
“We are hoping that in the next two years, rice importation into Nigeria will be banned. We are committed and the political will is in place.”