President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration would not rest in continually reviewing and strengthening ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector until Nigeria regains its pride of place as a food exporting country.
In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, yesterday in Abuja, said the President spoke while receiving a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kebbi State at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari said the country’s huge rice import bill had dropped significantly by over 90 per cent, a development he noted was not good enough by his expectation.
“Beyond self-sufficiency, we must strive to become net exporters of food commodities.
“We are not doing badly in the agricultural sector and Nigerians and the world are beginning to appreciate our efforts. We will not be satisfied; we will work harder until we start exporting food.
“We are happy that rice and beans importation into the country has gone down by over 90 per cent, and visibly everyone can see how productive states, like Kebbi, have turned out to be, and states like Lagos, Ogun and Ebonyi are following the example,” he said.
He said Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Sokoto states had already made remarkable turn-around in the sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.
The President said he disagreed with the astronomical food import bill presented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the inception of the administration, pointing out that it was later discovered to be “fraudulent practices” by some of the elites to deplete the foreign reserves.
“When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 dollars per barrel for many years, and the production was 2.1 billion barrel per day, I did not believe them, because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown.