THE Federal Government has said that Nigeria is now Africa’s largest producer of rice with a production level of nine million metric tonnes.
It made the announcement on Wednesday that the local production of maize, rice, cassava, among others, increased in 2021.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Mahmood, announced this in Abuja on the occasion of the National Exhibition of the 2021 World Food Day.
He stated that since the beginning of the 2021 farming season, his ministry had distributed inputs to states across the country to boost food production.
“Nigeria recorded a boost in the production of its major staple crops; especially maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes,” he said.
Mahmood added, “The same is obtainable for cassava, with production increase from 58.47MT in 2018 to 73.91MT and even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023.
“Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, dairy and fish production also rose by 166 per cent, 146 per cent and 11 per cent respectively between 2020 and 2021.”
He said the ministry had raised its national food reserve stock to 109,657MT in 2021, adding that this was expected to be further increase to 219,900MT by the end of 2022.
Mahmood said the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan, a component of Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, had a target of five to 10 million jobs in the agricultural sector and would provide zero interest loans to farmers.
He said, “The first phase of the scheme has produced over 1.1 million beneficiaries across all states and Abuja.
“Out of the five million planned beneficiaries for AFJP, the agric ministry has empowered 1,138,000 farmer beneficiaries across the 36 states and Abuja under the first phase of implementation.”
He also stated that Nigeria was the largest producer of cassava and yam in the world with 59.4 million tonnes and 47.9 million tonnes, adding that the country ranked 14th in maize production with 10.42 million tonnes and 4th in palm oil with 7.7 million tonnes.
The minister noted that agriculture was viewed as the backbone for the overall development of any country with highest employer of about 75 per cent of the populace.