From Francis Nansak, Lafia
Stakeholders in rice production have called for a stronger synergy between the public and private sectors so as to increase rice production in Nigeria.
The stakeholders made their opinions known in separate interviews with out Lafia correspondent in Makurdi on Wednesday at the closing of a two days stakeholders meeting on Rice Value Chain organized by GIZ.
The goal of the meeting was to enable stakeholders of the rice value chain in the three states appraise operations so far and coordinate activities for 2019.
Mr Stephen Kpama, the Programme Manager, Nasarawa Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and a stakeholder said the progress made so far in the production of local rice was commendable but a collaboration with private investors could make Nigeria an exporter of rice in the nearest future.
“I love what is happening with regards to rice production in the country. If Nigeria is very good in it and join hands with other stakeholders, we can begin to export rice in few years’ time. So our production will not just be for local consumption. It’s just we are not giving the full commitment agriculture deserves,” he said.
Another stakeholder, Mr Ubana Ubi, Zonal Manager, Cross Rivers Agriculture Development Programme said the public private synergy on rice will open business opportunities not just for the country, but also expose local rice farmers to the business side of rice production thereby spurring them to seek ways of increasing production.
“I know we can change our mind-set because most of our farmers are so conservative and because they are conservative, they don’t look at farming as a business but with the knowledge and intervention of GIZ coming in with good agronomic practices, farmer business school and so on.
“Our farmers can change their mind-set and adopt all this knowledge and the empowerment needed to boost their efforts. If our government and farmers can imbibe some of the knowledge offered to boost our production by the private sector who are interested in a partnership, definitely there will be food sufficiency in the country,” He said.
He then appealed to other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to focus on agriculture by emulate GIZ in training farmers across the country on methods on how to boost production in agricultural produce.
Mrs Caroline Trimborn, Project Coordinator of the Green Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Programme (GIAE)-Nigeria of German International Cooperation (GIZ) said a strong partnership between the public and private sector will yield positive gains for the country in terms of improved production of local rice and becoming an exporter of rice.
She added that public, private synergy is very vital for the agricultural sector in the country as it would help achieve the country’s goal of total self-sufficiency in rice production and consumption.
“The meeting focused on value chain approach. That basically means we looked at different actors and came to the conclusion that both the public and private sector need to work closely together.
“So we think it is about strong partnership. There is a huge potential in the synergy. That is why we want to bring both sides together,” She said.