Cotonou, Benin — During a private audience granted to the delegation from the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) on 22 June in Abuja, His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria commended the Center for the “wonderful job” it has been doing.
The WARDA delegation was accompanied by Members of its Council of Ministers and the National Experts Committee.
The President reaffirmed his Government’s full support to the Center, so that it can make more research breakthroughs like the NERICA, which he dubbed as “a miracle rice for Africa”. He thanked the donor community, especially Japan, for its support to WARDA.
Emphasizing the critical importance of maintaining self-sufficiency in staple foods, such as rice, for African countries, His Excellency threw a challenge to the experts and the Ministers to stop their countries from being so heavily dependent on rice imports. “It is unacceptable and shameful that we should be importing staple foods.” He urged the countries in the region to import from each other, when necessary, rather than from Asia or USA.
The Government of Nigeria has taken a strong interest in boosting local rice production, including NERICAs in the country through the Presidential Rice Initiative. The President affirmed that by the end of 2007, Nigeria would be self-sufficient in rice.