The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday said that local rice was expensive in Nigeria because of low milling capacity.
He, therefore, called for private-sector participation to enable government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) succeed in the country.
Osinbajo, who spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja while receiving a portal donated by the management of a commercial bank for use in the monitoring and evaluation of the home-grown school feeding programme, said: “Our economic recovery and growth plan really does assume a lot of private sector participation. And that participation, we expect it to be real and this is the sort of thing we are talking about.
“In agriculture, we recognise now that we have got to be able to produce enough rice for our people between now and possibly the end of 2018.
“We must absolutely stop importation of rice; there is no reason a country of our size with all the arable land that we have cannot produce enough rice for our own consumption and of cause export as time goes on.
“Looking at our milling capacity, which is one of the reasons we are not getting enough rice to the markets, the milling capacity is quite low.
“But there are a few private sector individuals and companies that are coming into milling now but we really need game-changing activity in that respect.”
Besides, he extended government’s appreciation to the bank on the donation of the portal that would capture the data of school children, while urging other corporate firms to emulate the gesture.
Meanwhile, wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, yesterday left Nigeria for the United Kingdom (UK) to join her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is in London for medical treatment.
A statement by her media aide, Bisi Olumide-Ajayi, said: “Her Excellency will spend some time with her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a medical vacation.”
According to the statement, Mrs. Buhari expressed appreciation to Nigerians for their support and prayers for her husband’s quick recovery and safe return to Nigeria.