Nigeria’s rice production has greatly improved from 5.7 million metric tonnes of paddy to 17 million metric tonnes.
Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu disclosed this to State House Correspondents after a meeting of Rice Farmers and Millers Associations with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
“The President hosted the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Rice Millers Association and Rice Distributors, together with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as Ministers, where he received presentation about the successes in agriculture and the rice value chain. He received report that today in Nigeria we are almost producing about 17 million metric tonnes of paddy per annum, up from as little as 5.7 million metric tonnes two and half years ago. The milling capacity has increased; eight new mills were commissioned last year alone with the installed milling capacity almost doubling,” he said.
Bagudu said rice farmers in the country are happy with the effort of government towards making life better for them.
According to him: “The Rice Distributors particularly that of Iddo, G-Cappa and Elko market in Lagos, came to show confidence in the programme of the federal government of Mr. President as encapsulated in his statement: “Let’s grow what we eat, and eat what we grow. The Distributors confirmed that Nigerian rice is better, more nutritious than imported rice and they are willing to partner so that Nigerian rice will be the dominant rice in the country and indeed we should be able to be exporting.”
Activities of Smugglers
Commenting on the activities of smugglers, the Kebbi State Governor said: “Yesterday the Economic Management Team discussed smuggling and today it was an important feature and it has been recognized. Everyone who knows the President’s commitment to the Nigerian economy will appreciate his annoyance with smuggling and smugglers. But it is a collective responsibility and so we want all Nigerians to partake in the moves to address the menace in importing the commodities especially in rice. The narrative out there is wrong. Other countries are undertaking economic warfare on us, there is no nation in the world that can produce and sell to Nigeria freshly grown rice equivalent to what is produced in Nigeria at the prices that Nigeria farmers are selling. So, most of the prices of smuggled rice are discounted prices that reflect the age of that rice and in some cases as identified by NAFDEC, not fit for human consumption.”
Also speaking, Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe said the borders of Nigeria are porous and smugglers are taking advantage of that but steps are being taken to address that.
“The borders are huge and porous. People walk in and out. People on the bothers who are relatives don’t see anything wrong in just walking across. The last consignment ceased by the customs was rice in a petrol tanker. Now when you bring that out, wash it, bag it and sell it, you are poisoning people but they don’t care. They bring in chicken, fish. The chicken is preserved in formalin which is dangerous to health. But anything goes as long as it is coming to Nigeria. Let me say that they are actually Nigerians actually conniving with smugglers because as far as they are concerned, it is their profit that is important more than the health of Nigerians,” Ogbe lamented.
Timothy Choji, Abuja