Jonathan Assures Of Self-sufficiency In Oil Palm Production By 2016
Provides N26 billion For Dry Season Farm
WITH private investment in oil palm production growing to the tune of N45billion and over 70,000 hectares of new oil palm plantation springing up across the country, Nigeria may become self-sufficient in oil palm production by 2016, President Goodluck Jonathan has assured.
Jonathan who gave the assurance during the Agricultural Festival held Friday at the Eagle Square, Abuja said government activities are now geared towards revamping the oil palm industry, with a view of supporting the private sector to build new refineries to process crude palm oil produced in the country.
While expressing satisfaction in the role private companies like Okomu, Presco, PZ-Wilmar and wilbar oil are playing in revamping oil palm plantations across the country, he disclosed that the federal government had provided 9million sprouted nuts of high yielding oil palm seedlings for all farmers across the country.
To further boost food production in the country, President Jonathan also announced plans to release N26billion towards the 2015 Dry Season Farming Programme.
Attributing the stable prices of food in the country despite economic challenges to increase food production, he noted that country was producing more food than ever before as the national food production has expanded by 21million metric tons within three years and the food import bill has declined from N1.1trillion in 2009 to N634billion in 2013.
The president further said that with increasing investment by the private in the fertilizer sector to the tune of $5billion (N900Billion) there are indications of a drastic reduction in the price of fertilizer, he said “the new investment will make our nation to become self-sufficient in fertilizer production, and turn into a net exporter of fertilizer”
“As this happens, the price of fertilizers will decline, and farmers will be able to afford more fertilizers to boost their food production. I celebrate the private sector investors who are boosting our fertilizer sector”, he noted.
Jonathan however read riot act to rice imports owing the federal government import duties, saying “Nigeria would not be held hostage by rice importers, there will be no sacred cows under my watch. All those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay”.
Highlighting the commendable development in the rice value chain, he pointed out that over 6million rice farmers have received improved rice seed varieties, thereby boosting domestic rice production by an additional 7million mt.
He noted that the rice revolution is now taking place across the country, from Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna, Kastina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Kogi, Ogun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Rivers, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, adding that rice milling factories have scaled up from 1 to 24mills.
He further noted that with the declining price of crude oil, agriculture has become a lifeline for the country, and there is need to create new wealth from the sector, he said “from the richness of our soils, the vastness of our rivers and the abundance of our cheap labour, we will produce more, and will in no time industrialize the agricultural sector”.