New govt policy to facilitate cultivation of 2.7mln hectares of rice
The document noted that cultivable land in the country is estimated at 4.234 million hectares, made up of rain-fed uplands at 30 percent, rain-fed lowland at 52 percent
According to the recently launched National Rice Development Strategy II (NRDS II) Nigeria is aiming at increasing the rice area under irrigation from less than 1 million hectares to 2.7 million hectares, particularly areas under supplementary water supply to attain 2 cropping per year.
The document noted that cultivable land in the country is estimated at 4.234 million hectares, made up of rain-fed uplands at 30 percent, rain-fed lowland at 52 percent, irrigated lowlands at 17 percent and mangrove at 1 percent.
The new Strategy also targets to build the capacity of 84,000 extension agents and 12 million farmers on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Sustainable Rice Production (SRP).
Part of its goal is to increase on a sustainable basis the volume of rice paddy produced, stored-up and marketed in Nigeria to meet the widening annual national demand and surpluses for export in the long run, and to improve the livelihoods of rice-dependent households in the country.
The document further noted that the objectives of the new Strategy is to bring more of Nigeria’s potential rice areas into cultivation through land development and make more rice land available.
“Enhance the productivity of existing cultivated areas through increased adoption of GAP for sustainable rice production and closing the yield gaps existing between farmers;
“Promote the adoption and use of climate-smart technologies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emission from rice fields and increase the resilience or adaptation to climate change impact;
“To promote the adoption of SRP standards to mitigate the negative impact on the biophysical and social environment of rice production. Enhance farmer’s access to quality agro-inputs and their optimal use at a realistic cost”, the document stated.
The new Rice Strategy also aims at increasing average yield to 4.0 tons per hectare for rain-fed upland, 6.0 tons per hectare for rain-fed lowland and 7.5 tons per hectare for irrigated ecology through the introduction of new high-yielding climate-smart rice varieties.
While launching NRDS II in Abuja, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, said the rice value chain has been identified as being strategic to achieving food and nutrition security.
“The NRDS II document is a ten-year plan which seeks to provide direction for the development of the rice subsector to achieve government’s goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export”, the minister said.