Former President Shehu Shagari and his administration are responsible for Nigeria’s inability to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and very low food output, says former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
Shagari ruled Nigeria from 1979 – 1983.
Obasanjo, who first ruled Africa’s most populous state as military leader from 1976-1979, said the Shagari administration scuttled the agricultural revolution that was being implemented then to boost local production of rice and other agricultural produce.
He said this shift in policy focus served as a disincentive to farmers who were cultivating rice, and they were sent packing as imported bags of rice started to flood the country.
Obasanjo spoke Thursday at the launch of Okun Rice in his Presidential Library in Abeokuta. The brand is produced by Hyst Global Business Limited, owned by Mr. Biodun Onalaja.
“One of our problems in this country is inconsistency in policy.
“In 1979, we were getting to a place where we would be self sufficient in rice production, but then a new administration came and set up a Presidential Committee on rice importation instead of a Presidential Committee on Exportation of rice.
“In no time, when the imported rice started arriving, those farmers who were cultivating rice gave up.
“Today I commend Hyst Global Business Limited and the chairman, Mr. Biodun Onalaja, for his doggedness, persistence, and stubbornness. It is not easy to succeed here as a farmer. But I want to say Onalaja is a success story, because despite the odds he never gave up,” Obasanjo said.
Okun Rice is produced at Ejiba, Kogi State.