President Muhammadu Buhari has highlighted his administration’s reduction of rice importation by 90 per cent as a major achievement in the agriculture sector, an effort he said is geared at increasing the country’s food security.
Buhari made the observation on Tuesday, May 29, while addressing the nation on the Democracy Day, a day set aside to celebrate the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999.
He said, “Under agriculture, Nigeria continues to pursue a strategic food security programme built around self-sufficiency and minimization of import dependency.
“As a result, rice importation from other countries has been cut down by 90 per cent which has a direct impact on foreign reserves.”
Meanwhile, the president also listed agriculture as part of the three sectors of the economy in the administrations’ Focus Labs initiative.
The Focus Labs, according to him, include Agriculture & Transport, Manufacturing and Processing as well as Power and Gas.
He explained that these initiatives will help the country’s ailing economy through capital inflow and increased investment opportunities.
Buhari stated, “These have yielded significant prospects for investments and Job creation to the tune of US$22.5 billion with a potential for creating more than 500,000 jobs by 2020.
“These investment generation initiatives are expected to increase capital inflows in the form of foreign direct investment. There is a high prospect that the cumulative investments from this first phase of the Labs will hit US$39.2 billion by 2025.”
Also, the former military head of state listed the Social Investment Programmes (SIP) as another initiative of his administration.
SIP, according to him, is “a means to graduate our citizens from poverty through capacity building, investment, and direct support.
“The major strategic objective is to restore livelihood, economic opportunities, and sustenance for the poor across the country. The SIP programmes and projects include:
“A. Home Grown School Feeding Programme – About 8.2 million pupils are currently being fed from 24 States of the Federation with over 75,000 Catering Staff engaged under the programme.
“B. The Conditional Cash Transfer has so far recorded over 297,000 caregivers and being trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators in 21 states.
“Less privileged Nigerians are now being paid N5,000 monthly stipend in 9 pilot States of Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Osun, and Oyo. Eventually, the scheme will cover all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT.
“C. Under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme – About 264,269 loans had been disbursed to 4,822 societies in the 36 States and FCT, while another 370,635 are awaiting the release of funds.
“D. N-Power Job creation Scheme – is targeted at providing jobs for unemployed young graduates and has so far recruited 200,000 youths while the next batch of 300,000 has been selected, verified and would soon be deployed across the 36 States and the FCT.
“Furthermore, 20,000 non-graduate volunteers have also been selected to kick off the N-Build programme in collaboration with the National Automotive Design and Development Council and the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria,” the president added.