ABUJA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said the country's rice production has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually, a significant rise from average production of less than 4 million metric tons in about 22 years.
Buhari disclosed this in Abuja while speaking at the official commissioning ceremony of the sky-high rice paddy pyramids organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Nigerian leader urged Nigerians to exercise some patience as the growing food production in the country, especially expansion in rice farming, will eventually bring down prices of food, making it more affordable for all.
He noted across Nigeria, more than 4.8 million smallholder farmers had been supported by the Anchor Borrowers' Program (ABP), an initiative through which the CBN supports local farmers to increase the production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato, and livestock.
"I am aware that the bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria, which lead to the release of processed rice to the markets by the rice millers. The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria," Buhari said.
With the ABP initiative which was launched by his administration, the president said, Nigeria now has over 50 standard and integrated rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment, adding there would be an additional significant output when two new mills are started in Lagos, the country's economic hub, and Katsina in the northwest region.
The large margins in the business of rice had also encouraged more people to show interest in investing in agribusiness, noting the mega rice pyramids were part of the government's commitment to achieving national food security and economic diversification through home-grown policies targeted at securing food for all Nigerians.
"As a critical policy of the government, the ABP is expected to catalyze the agricultural productive base of the nation, which is a major part of our economic plan to uplift the economy, create jobs, reduce reliance on imported food, and industrial raw materials, and conserve foreign exchange," he said.
"This has resulted in bridging our rice consumption gap, a significant reduction in rice imports, and saved us foreign exchange," he added.