By John Oba
The invaluable health benefit of the Nigeria home grown rice cannot be overemphasized, comparatively the foreign rice are of far lower quality to the home grown rice that contains all the vital food nutrient that our body requires to stay healthy and strong.
These was the assertions of the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, in a statement signed by the acting director, information, Mrs Lere-Adams, Blessing.
Lokpobiri said this when the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma visited him in his Office in Abuja as he resumes office in Nigeria.
Speaking further the minister said agriculture is the most important sector in the Nigerian economy. More so with the dwindling oil price the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to redirecting Nigerians back to traditional agriculture and also determined to improve on mechanized farming from subsistence farming to enhance increase productivity.
The minister stressed the importance of collaborative partnership with the FAO. Such partnership with technical support from FAO according to him, will greatly contribute to the achievement of the strategic objective of the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) 2016-2020.
The Minister also talked about replicating the enviable success story of the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) to the rest of the African continent, this will encourage increase in the number of farmers and specifically increase productivity.
Our young fabricators who are gaining more prominence in the fabrication of fishery facilities here In Nigeria will be of great assistance to other African countries through the collaborative efforts of Nigeria and FAO shared information, knowledge and easy accessibility to both Regional and International markets.
Earlier the visiting FAO Reprehensive in Nigeria Suffyan Koroma, said he looks forward to strengthening all the alliances and build new ones in order to attain record success and the mandate of the Agriculture sector.
Koroma said he will be reviving the quarterly meetings alongside the implementation of key projects that will satisfy the mandate of FAO and Nigeria
Representative of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Coordinating Director, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services, Dr Vincent Isegbe (2nd right), being assisted by the representative of the Governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode, during the presentation of the intervention materials to farmers at the nationwide advocacy programme on quality control and standardisation for South-west states, in Lagos recently Photo: FMARD
Nigeria rice better quality than foreign- Lokpobiri
‘Smugglers allegedly connived with Customs to bring in Rice’
The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has decried the incessant rate of rice smuggling across the Benin – Nigeria border, accusing the Nigeria. Customs officers at the border of connivance.
This is even as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh warned that the federal government may be force to shut the border between Nigerian and Republic of Benin if nothing is done urgently to stop the smuggling from its end.
RIPANs’ National President, Mr Abubakar Muhammed, said Customs officers across the border are compromised as they allowed smugglers to bring in rice at a fee.
“For now, we understand that the smuggled rice is being sold in Lagos at N13,500, Kano, N14,000, Abuja N15,000, depending on how easy it is for them to get it into the country.
“In Lagos, they bring it in motorcycles, they give the Customs officers N500. I am saying it now before the press, it is something that if you call me, I will go and show you, it is happening. If you want to bring a truck load, it is N3000. So the easier to bring it in, the cheaper they sell. So if we get paddy at N110,000 per ton, we can sell at N13,500 or at most N14,000. We can compete with them on price but our quality is better than the imported rice,” he explained.
He said governments need to look into it, as Nigeria cannot be self sufficient in rice if this continued. “We need help and protection just like other farmers in India, Thailand.
“The issue of smuggling is our major challenge, bringing down the price of rice, if the Nigeria Customs will do their work. Smuggling is the menace that kills the industry, and reduce the moral of producers. Millions of tons of rice is waiting at Cotonou, products that Cotonou people don’t eat and most of these rice are coming into Nigeria and they use everything possible means ranging from motorcycles, trucks, Donkeys, to move the rice into Nigeria.
“Honorable minister, pleases, do something about this, we the millers and farmers are willing to do all within our power to achieve this. We think a price of N110,000 per ton, is reasonable enough for both farmers and millers,” he said.
He said one or two ships load of rice is enough to satisfy the Benin Republic, but, that some years, 58 ships load of rice will anchor in their port, saying logically, all these ends up in Nigeria.
“The government need to do something on the highest level to address this, because we can’t be self sufficient in rice with this kind of smuggling. We the millers and farmers are determined to bring down the price of rice, but something must be done on the problem of smuggling. If we done get protection from the government against this, at a point people will loss hope.
“Our rice is fresh because we don’t even have paddy to keep for two to three years. We process fresh paddy from the farms. The rice smuggled in are older than that. They can’t give us the best quality, because they would want to feed their people with the best rice. Nigerian rice have no preservatives like the imported rice,” he emphasised
Responding, Chief Ogbeh, re-emphasised that the biggest enemy of Nigerian rice industry is the rice smugglers.
Quoting the World Bank report that revealed recently that Nigeria is losing $5 billion a year to smugglers. He said: “They don’t only smuggled rice, chicken or fish, but they also smuggled weapons.