By Ayo Fadimu
Nigeria is set to start exportation of rice and other food produce as before the end of next year 2018 just as major reforms have been introduced into the agriculture sector of the economy by the Federal Government.
This indication was given by the Vice-President, Nigeria AgriBusiness Group, Dr Emmanuel Ijewere, during a roundtable with agriculture correspondents in Lagos.
According to him, prior to the coming of former Minister of Agriculture, Mr Akinwunmi Adesina, Nigeria had only one integrated rice mill. He noted however that the revolution in the sector which was pioneered by the former minister saw Nigeria having 22 of facilities now.
He noted that Nigeria currently produces only about 2 metric tonns of rice while we consume about 8 metric tonns with about 5.8 metric tonns imported annually. He however assured that with the level of activities going on in rice production, Nigeria should have enough to consume and start importing by end of 2018.
The Vice-Presdent also stated that Nigeria is now self sufficient in cassava production, while the group is ensuring production value chain with the cooperation of the government. He noted that end products like ethanol, sugar and renewable energies are now derived from cassava.
The group, he noted is also experimenting with tomatoes and the value chain inherent. According to him, work is going on with Dansa tomatoes plant in Kano where locally made tomatoes paste will be produced for consumption and exportation.
On the challenge of Land Use Act with farmers going into mechanised farming, Dr Ijiwere noted that his group has met with the government on it and that a commission has been set up to look into it. He however urged farmers not to be discouraged as his group will do everything possible to assist them in every way possible.
The agribusiness group boss also dismissed the claims of some tomatoes paste importers that the type of paste being imported is not found in Nigeria. “Nigeria is blessed with soil that can grow any type of tomatoes. What they import is ‘triple concentrate’ which is not good for consumption.” He said.
The pioneer coordinator of Nigeria Agribusiness Group who was accompanied by an official of the group, Mrs Temitope Oluwo, was named a patron of the Nigerian Association of Agriculture Journalists during the event.
In his acceptance, Dr Ijewere appreciated the efforts of the media in projecting the activities of the group. He promised the group ready information that would aid their reportage of the revolution in the agric sector.