FG Receives Commendation Over Rice Import Policy Reversal | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG Receives Commendation Over Rice Import Policy Reversal

Posted: Apr 1, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase, Lagos

President of Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, RiMIDAN, Tunji Owoeye, has commended the Federal Government’s action on the ban of importation of rice through land borders.

He said with the ban, government is now ready for economic diversification by promoting local rice production through policy reversal and other intervention supports, adding that the policy would remove the major obstacles faced by the local rice producers.

Owoeye, who is also the National Chairman of Association of Rice Investors, gave the commendation while addressing agriculture correspondents in his office in Lagos.

He stated that the biggest challenge to the rice farmers in the country had been removed by the government with the reversal of the earlier policy that allowed importation of rice through land borders.

He said the policy had allowed illegal smuggling of rice from neighbouring countries, affecting revenue generation of Nigeria while improving the revenue generation of those countries where the rice are being imported.

“This was our stand before, but the government claimed that we should allow goods to move freely within ECOWAS countries into Nigeria.

“Secondly, the government believed that our much needed revenues would be generated from land borders. Meanwhile, from our experience, we let the Government know that as at then, we didn’t have resources to align with the rice coming through the border because we have many unmanned borders through which illegal importation could be done,” he said.

Owoeye, who is the Group Managing Director of Elephant Group, a major rice miller in Nigeria, disclosed that the governments, both Federal and States, have also been supporting the local farmers along rice value chains with various intervention funds made available to farmers through Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at single-digit interest rate.

He stated that the farmers have been benefiting from those funds especially in the Northern part of the country where there were larger number of rice farmers who also enjoyed advantage of irrigation.

According to him, through the intervention support, many moribund rice mills across the country have been revived and were fully operational.

He thereby assured that with the massive interventions and supports from the government, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Bank of Industry (BOI) and others bodies, the insufficient gap in the rice production in the country would be drastically reduced to the barest minimum before the end of this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the country would be closer to becoming self-sufficiency in rice production.

Comparing the imported rice with the locally made rice, Owoeye said the imported rice was not of good quality as the locally produced one, adding that the imported rice was not as nutritious as the one produced in Nigeria.

Also, on the price gap between the imported rice and the locally produced one, he explained that the price of the local rice especially the integrated milled rice was lower than that of the imported one in the market.

He said maybe because of its low quantity in the market, the distributors might have inflated the price, stressing that the regulation of the price in the market was not the responsibility of the farmers but that of the government.

However, he urged the government to constitute a vibrant Market Board to comprise agro and agribusiness experts who are not politician to regulate the market price of the locally produced rice.