Nigerian Presidential spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu said this in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, that efforts to get the nation out of its present economic challenges are beginning to yield positive results, especially in the area of agriculture. The presidential aide disclosed that increased volume of rice production and processing across the country is already saving the country a lot of foreign exchange. Nigeria only imported 58,000 tons of rice from Thailand in 2015 as against 1.2million tons in 2014. He revealed that due to the country’s growing rice production supported by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to deny foreign exchange for the import of rice, “parboiled rice mills’’ in some Asian countries were shutting down production. According to him, this is because Nigeria, which is one of the world’s largest importers of rice no longer, buys rice from them. “Five of such mills in Thailand servicing Nigeria have stopped production due to the withdrawal of our patronage,’’ he added.
According to Mr. Shehu, government was watching with keen interest the growing investment in rice milling by the country’s private sector. He said government would continue to encourage and support the Ministry of Agriculture on such efforts through BUA Industries in Jigawa and Dangote in Kano. He said such encouragement would also be extended to OLAM and WACOTT in Nassarawa and Kebbi as well as to a consortium of businessmen led by a former governor in Anambra. Due to the increased utility of the resources manufactured locally because of the growing impetus given to local industry, Mr. Shehu expressed his delight in disclosing that the price of a bag of fertilizer had been reduced from over N9, 000 per bag to 5,500. “This country has about 32 fertilizer blending plants that have remained idle for many years, but that about half of that number is now in production with many of them running three shifts a day,’’ he said. Some of the blending plants had now provided direct employment to hundreds of workers and indirect employment opportunities to thousands of others. Shehu said that the Buhari administration’s agricultural revolution was bringing about other socio-economic changes in the country. He said that a recent survey carried out in two urban areas of Jigawa and Kiyawa showed that jobless young men were migrating from commercial motor cycle business known as, `achaba’, to farming, pulling the country out of recession in the process.