Graduate students from African countries, under the aegis of the League of African Development Students (LEADS Africa), have commended Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) for its rice development initiatives.
Mr Gabriel Morgan, the President of LEADS, commended RIFAN in Abuja when the group presented the award of Africa’s Patriotic Personality to Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, the National President of RIFAN.
He said that the production and quality of Nigerian rice had increased significantly in recent times, adding that the feat had been acclaimed by various international associations.
Morgan, who is from University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana, said that his group had recognised the trailblazing roles of Goronyo in championing rice development initiatives in Nigeria and Africa at large.
He said that the achievements had somewhat facilitated Africa’s quest to catch up with the other regions of the world in agricultural development issues.
Morgan noted that the rice development initiatives had improved the Nigerian brand of rice, while creating avenues for the engagement of youths in sustainable rice farming development strategies.
“We seek to find for ourselves role models, outstanding institutions and mentors in life, as we found these qualities in RIFAN and Alhaji Goronyo, who is a proven authority in Africa’s rice farming space and a consummate corporate leader.’’
Morgan commended RIFAN for developing rice production in Nigeria, while boosting the income of smallholder rice farmers in the rural areas.
He said that judging from the outstanding rate of rice production in the country; rice farming would soon be contributing substantially to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Morgan called on African leaders to use Goronyo’s wealth of experience in efforts to put in place good rice production strategies on the continent.
Responding, Goronyo commended the group for its viewpoints and urged its members to venture into rice farming as part of efforts to promote Africa’s food security.
He said that the plans of the Federal Government to ensure the country’s self-sufficiency in rice production had become a reality.
He noted that states like Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Kano, among others, which made appreciable budgetary provisions for rice production, now had a lot to show for their investments.
“Rice is the most popular staple food in the country and the world’s second popular crop after maize; hence the huge demand for rice across the world,’’ he said.
Goronyo said that in 2015, Nigerians spent not less than N1 billion daily on rice consumption, adding that while the expenditure had reduced drastically, rice consumption had increased significantly because of the growing increase in local production of rice.
He said that the available statistics indicated that the annual rice consumption rate in the country now had increased from 7.9 million tonnes to over 8.5 million tonnes, while the volume of rice production had correspondingly increased from 5.8 million tonnes to 6.9 million tonnes per annum.
He, however, noted that several efforts had been put in place to cut down the price of rice in the country, adding that these included collaborations with Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) and other African countries to boost rice production and exports in Africa.
The RIFAN president lauded the Federal Government for outlawing rice importation into the country and called on all Nigerians, particularly the youth, to ensure the fulfilment of that policy.
“RIFAN is not only a part of FG’s efforts to enforce the ban but it is also driving other advocacy groups in the campaign to ensure the attainment of self-sufficiency in rice production in the country.
“We are also on the platform of African Rice Advocacy; when Nigeria succeeds, Africa will succeed and when Africa succeeds, the world will take heed.
“ Nigeria has a competitive advantage to convert our vast lands into money and so is Africa. As young ones, irrespective of your areas of study, engaging in agriculture is important for our continent,’’ he said.
The RIFAN president gave automatic membership of the association to LEADS Africa, as an organisation, and to its members who were present at the award ceremony