Nigeria is reputed to be the world’s largest importer of rice with a daily import bill of One Billion Naira. In 2011, Official figures show that Nigeria expended Three Hundred and Sixty five Billion Naira on the importation of 2.1 million tonnes of rice, by 2014 Nigeria’s rice consumption had risen to about 5.4 million tonnes with imports climbing as high as 3 million tonnes. Efforts by the previous administration to reverse the trend were frustrated by the import waiver-regime of the same government. Ironically Nigeria is also the largest producer of rice in West Africa but her inability to maximize the country’s huge potentials in rice production has led to a heavy dependence on importation of the essential grain from Thailand, India and Vietnam, to meet the fast grow rice consumption demand in the country.
Rice is just one of the numerous crops that Nigeria has the potential to grow for both national consumption and export. Tree crops like cocoa, oil palm and rubber as well as roots and tuber crops like peanuts, cassava and yam where once the mainstay of the country’s economy. Today, Nigerians look back with regret at the undue emphasis placed on oil as a revenue earner to the detriment of agriculture that had the potential, not only to create jobs but also to guarantee food sufficiency. This is because of the dwindling value of oil, the consequent fall in the value of the national currency and the debilitating impact on the country’s import dependent economy.
FARMERS MARKET is a multi-media project designed to advocate programmes and policies to fast track the building and sustenance of a viable Agro-Economy in Nigeria by focusing on the great potentials of agriculture; the numerous cash crops and food crops; the rich diversity of states and their farming communities as well as the tremendous contributions of private organisations to commercial farming while also highlighting the challenges besetting commercial crop production in the country. The project also aims to promote policies and programmes to boost local production of cash and food crops with a view to discouraging their importation; create an enabling environment for private sector participation in building an agro-economy capable of meeting Nigeria’s consumption and export needs, boosting the country’s GDP and revenue generation while reducing the unemployment burden.