Abuja — The Minister of State for FCT, Ms Olajumoke Akinjide, has assured of the commitment of the Federal Government and FCT Administration to Nigeria's self-sufficiency in rice production by 2015.
She said that on Tuesday in Abuja when delegates from the Rice Africa, a pan-African Organisation, paid her a courtesy visit.
Akinjide said the vision would be realised in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Towards this end, the minister said, government would revolutionise the agriculture sector with the development of a new policy aimed at commercialising agriculture.
"The Government has introduced the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) aimed at revamping the agriculture sector, ensuring food security, diversifying the economy, and enhancing foreign exchange earnings," she added.
Akinjide said that agriculture was one of the major pillars of the Federal Government transformation agenda to ensure that the nation could feed itself.
She stressed the need to engage the youths in agriculture, pointing out that "many of the farmers are old and need replacement."
"There is need to replace the ageing farmers that we have with the young entrepreneurs.
"Most of our population is made up of very young and energetic people looking for profitable ventures.
"If this farming chain approach is systematically and properly addressed, it would help young people find a profitable niche in agriculture," she said.
Akinjide said the administration was "looking at ways to make sure that every farmer in the area councils" was registered and has access to input in the next farming season".
She said that Abaji and Kwali Area Councils had been allocated two rice mills by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to boost the production of rice.
According to her, other council areas known for their potential in rice production are Gwagwalada, Bwari and southern kuje.
Earlier in his speech, the Managing Director, Rice Africa, Dr Edwin Idu, solicited the support of the administration for the second International Conference, slated for Abuja between March 6 and March 8.
Idu explained that the conference, an annual event, was to develop the capacity of rice producers in Africa and to encourage new ideas as well evolve innovative approaches relevant to delivery of rice value chain.
According to him, participants will also discuss rice service delivery, research and development strategies that meet the changing needs of smallholder rice farmers.
"We are expecting over 600 participants from Japan and other Asian countries, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and other African countries," he disclosed. (NAN)