As part of its measures to ensure food security in Nigeria, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) said the Commission had embarked on drastic measures to develop the country’s local rice production in order to attain self-sufficiency as rapidly as possible. The Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Mr Segun Awolowo disclosed this in Ogbese, in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, during a one day workshop with the theme “Needs Assessment and Best practises Across Rice Value Chain.” Awolowo, who was represented by the Council’s Trade Promotion Advisor, Akure Office, Ondo state, Mrs. Iyabode Abe, said NEPC noted that the demand for rice, both at the local and international markets, is on the rise as it remained one of the staple food consumed on daily basis.
She disclosed that the council noted the challenges encountered in the production of rice in Nigeria which she said included planting, processing, packaging and sales method by local farmers, processors and merchants which lead to the rejection of locally produced rice and preference for foreign rice.
“The Council, as part of its products development strategy, is embarking on this sensitisation programme for practitioners, particularly farmers. “The NEPC has strategically carried out some field work and workshop in the area of product and market development among which is the study tour for rice development in 2020.” She said this led to the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for rice development under the Ondo State Integrated Rice Project, which was done between the Ondo State government and the Nigerian- Malaysia Business Council. She explained that the data and information gathered during the signing of the MoU motivated NEPC to embark on the capacity building and sensitisation programme. Speaking, the Special Adviser to the state governor on Agriculture, Mr. Akin Olotu, said the programme will help to identify the challenges confronting rice farmers in the state.
He said “We are here today to carry out the Needs Assessment so that the team will interface directly with the farmers and find out their challenges so as to increase production. Essentially what we are to do is to rev up rice value chain in the state.
“We are choosing Ogbese because of the potentials because we have a lot of rice farmers around here, but it will still be spread across the state where our people are growing rice. “Our opinion is that if we produce adequate rice, it will create jobs for our people, there will be food security and we will have access to better, quality rice “We will teach them how to produce, we will give them necessary equipments in order to be attractive to the young ones, this is all we are trying to do. “The value chain will be completed, the planting, the processing and the marketing, the Malaysian are coming, this is a big project.”