Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled what one of his media aides has dubbed the “world’s largest rice pyramids” – made with one million bags of rice – in the capital, Abuja.
The temporary “rice pyramids” were aimed at showcasing the government’s efforts to boost rice production, and to make Nigeria – Africa most populous state – self-sufficient in food.
It was one of the main electoral pledges that Mr Buhari made when he took office in 2015.
Mr Buhari’s media aide Bashir Ahmed tweeted that the initiative has led to a sharp reduction of Nigeria’s annual rice import bill – from $1.5bn (£1.1bn) in 2015 to $18.5m.
The bags of rice for the pyramids were collected from farmers across Nigeria, whose efforts to increase production received financial backing from the central bank in a scheme known as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyse the agricultural productive base of the nation, which is a major part of our economic plan to uplift the economy, create jobs, reduce reliance on imported food and industrial raw materials, and conserve foreign exchange,” Mr Buhari was quoted by local media as saying at the event.
While Mr Ahmed said the “world’s largest rice pyramids” had been unveiled, the central bank preferred to call them “mega rice pyramids”:
Earlier, a senior official of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Shehu Muazu, warned that immediately after the unveiling of the “pyramids”, the bags of rice would be allocated to processors, and sold at a discounted price.
“This will lead to drastic reduction in price once it starts rolling into the market,” he was quoted as saying.