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Food Security: Senate approves establishment of National Rice Development Council

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Pyramids of Rice
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…says Nigeria’ll save $2bn annually on rice importation 
 
The Senate has passed a bill seeking to establish the National Rice Development Council, a move that would see to Nigeria saving about $2 billion dollars on rice importation and improve the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Chairman of the Committee, Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), in his presentation, said that the bill seeks to establish a Council that would lead to a comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organisation of rice stakeholders to enhance local production of rice in Nigeria.

He explained that the establishment of the Council would transform the activities of rice farmers, rice processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other important stakeholders across the entire rice value chain, particularly the clusters of smallholder rice farmers and small scale millers spread all over the country.

“Mr. President and Distinguished Colleagues, with our natural comparative advantage in the area of rice production as a country, Nigeria should consider the need to put in place a National Rice Development Council and a fail-safe comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in production, but also for export purposes, employment generation for our teaming youth and growth of our economy.

“The Nigerian rice industry exists in abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point.

“Today, we have Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and many more.

“This Bill seeks to establish that rallying point and a comprehensive National operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain process.

“Mr. President and Distinguished Colleagues, this Bill on its own merit will improve government efforts for efficient policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian Rice Industry; promote enabling business and investment environments for Rice stakeholders; support the growth of the Rice industry in Nigeria and in the sub-region as well as promote the sustainability of foreign exchange earnings put at about 2 billion dollars annually for Rice related importation to the country.

“The framework created by thịs Bill will pull investment into rice production, provide the missing link between rice production and industrialization, provide employment, reduce migration from rural to urban cities and enhance socio-economic activities all over the country.

“Few countries having Rice Council include Rice Council of Tanzania, USA Rice Council, Directorate of Rice Development (India), Rice Association of Thailand, among others”, Senator Adamu said.

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Agriculture

Senate passes bill to establish Agricultural Development Fund

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Nigerian Senate
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The Senate, on Tuesday, passed a bill to establish the National Agricultural Development Fund.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a motion for re-commital of the National Development Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2022.

The motion was sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).

Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, in his presentation, recalled that both chambers of the National Assembly passed the National Development Fund (Establishment) Bill, 2022, and transmitted same to the President for assent.

He noted that after critical examination of the Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, some fundamental issues which required fresh legislative action on some Clauses were observed.

He explained that against the backdrop, a Technical Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives met and worked on the affected Clauses of the Bill, “desirous of the need to assess the observations by the Committee and make necessary amendments.”

Accordingly, the chamber rescinded its decision on the affected Clause of the Bill as passed and re-committed same to the Committee of the Whole for re-consideration and passage.

The bill was passed by the chamber after the affected Clauses were re-considered by the Committee of the Whole.

In a related development, a total of three bills scaled second reading during plenary on Tuesday.

The bills are for an Act to provide for the facilitation and co-ordination of public infrastructure development; to amend the Provisions of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act; and to Repeal the Quarantine Act and Enact the National Health Emergency Act.

The bills were sponsored by Senators Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North); Uche Lilian Ekwunife (Anambra Central); and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North).

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over plenary on Tuesday, referred the bills after consideration to the Committees on National Planning; Trade and Investment; and Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases.

The Committees were given four weeks to report back to the chamber in plenary.
 

 

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Agriculture

Senate passes bill to establish College of Crop Science and Food Technology

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan
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 …approves Federal University of Agriculture in Enugu State

 The Senate has passed a bill seeking to establish the Federal College of Crop Science and Food Technology Lere, Kaduna State.

This was even as the chamber gave its nod to four bills for concurrence from the House of Representatives.

Also passed was a bill seeking to establish the Federal University of Agriculture Mpu, Enugu State.

The passage of the bills to establish the Federal College of Crop Science and Federal University of Agriculture  was sequel to the consideration of two separate reports by the Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development; and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

Presentations on the reports were made by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who chairs the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development;  and Senator Tolulope Odebiyi, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, Senator Ahmad Babba-Kaita.

Senator Abdullahi, in his presentation, said the establishment of the Federal College of Crop Sciences and Food Technology, Lere, would provide full-time or part-time courses of in Crop Science and Food Technology, Applied Science, Commerce and Management.

He added that the Institution would also provide training to address the needs of Nigeria in the area of agricultural production, industrial distribution and research in the development and adaptation of technologies.

In a related development, the Senate on Wednesday passed four bills for concurrence from the House of Representatives.

The bills were sponsored by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).

The bills include: the National Biotechnology Development Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2022; and School of Mines and Geological Studies, Akoko Edo Local Government (Establishment) Bill, 2022.

Others are the Federal Medical Centre Igboho, Oyo State (Establishment) Bill, 2022; and Federal College of Education Keana, Nasarawa State (Establishment) Bill, 2022.

The four bills for concurrence were passed after a clause-by-clause consideration by the Committee of the Whole.

Meanwhile, a Bill For An Act to Amend the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) Act 2022, on Wednesday, scaled second reading.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar (Kwara North).

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill after consideration to the Committee on Establishment and Public Service Matters for further legislative work.

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate in plenary.

 

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Agriculture

Buhari Unveils 13 Sky-high Abuja Rice Pyramids

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By Raphael Awesome
Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday unveiled 13 sky-high pyramids consisting of one million bags of paddy rice.

Unveiling the FCT Mega Rice Pyramids at the International Trade Fair Complex, Abuja, Buhari said the event showed that the country was making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.

The president expressed the commitment of his administration towards implementing home-grown policies targeted at securing food for all Nigerians.

Buhari, said that the unveiling of the pyramids is a testament to the fact that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has started yielding fruitful results.

He said: “Fellow Nigerians, our gathering here today, is no doubt a testament to the fact that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is working.

“Indeed, these sky-high pyramids for which we are gathered here to commission are part of our commitment at achieving national food security and economic diversification through home-grown policies targeted at securing food for all Nigerians.

“As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyse the agricultural productive base of the nation,”.

The President said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme was designed to encourage investments in agriculture and empower smallholder farmers as drivers of transformation in the agricultural sector.

He further said that the Programme had continued to receive commendations, since its introduction, as it has become one of the reference points in the administration’s agricultural revolution effort.

According to him, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has so far supported over 4.8 million smallholder farmers across the country for the production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock.

“In fact, the Programme speaks loudly in its giant strides as it has increased access to finance by our rural farmers, who before now were virtually excluded from the financial system.

“Today rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 Million Metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of ABP, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015 was less than four metric tons annually,’’ he said.

On his part, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said the intervention by the bank in the Nigerian agricultural sector led to the massive reduction in imported rice from Thailand to 58,000 metric tons at the end of 2021 as against 1.3 million metric tons imported in 2014.

Emefiele said that Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) was started in November 2015 to provide aid to farmers and influence the value chain of various commodities in Nigeria, adding that ABP has also catalyzed the rural economy and has built a sustainable framework for financing smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

He said: “The Programme has developed an ecosystem among all nodes of the agricultural value chain and these linkages can be better optimized through synergy among all stakeholders.

“We are delighted that these efforts have yielded fruits in not just increasing the availability of rice, but also in moderating prices, reducing imports and increasing job creation in the country. For example, Thailand alone exported 1.3 million metric tons of rice to Nigeria in 2014.

“The ABP was launched in 2015 to curtail these imports, and since then, we have seen incremental reductions in rice imports from Thailand. By 2016, rice imports from Thailand had fallen to only 58,000 metric tons. As of the end of 2021, they only exported 2,160 metric tons to Nigeria, thereby saving us foreign exchange and helping preserve jobs in Nigeria.”

The Apex Bank Governor disclosed that beyond increasing national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, significant improvement of productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per hectare in 2015 to between about 5 metric tons per hectare in 2021 was also recorded.

Speaking on the sidelines, Mr Ado Hassan, Secretary of the Kano State chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) said the country will commence exportation of rice in the near future to engender the twin benefits of food security and economic diversification.

He dispelled insinuations that the rice pyramids on display were not solely rice, stating that the commodity was brought in by rice farmers in virtually all states of the country.

“The rice here is from all over the country. RIFAN has always been real, it is not possible to deceive 200 million Nigerians with a project like this.

“For the fact that Nigeria has not imported even a grain of rice in the last four years is enough proof that we are already self-sufficient in the commodity. The cultivation of rice is a reality and it will continue to happen,” he said.

Hassan disclosed that Nigeria has become the highest rice-growing country in Africa due to the support of the Federal Government and the intervention of the CBN.

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