‘How rice import ban will aid local production, investments’
The President of Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, RiMIDAN, and National Chairman of Association of Rice Investors, Tunji Owoeye has commended the Federal Government action to ban importation of rice through land borders, saying the policy would remove the major obstacles faced by the local rice producers.
He said that the Government was now ready for economic diversification by promoting local rice production through policy reversal and other intervention supports.
Owoeye, who is the Group Managing Director of Elephant Group, a rice-milling firm in Nigeria, said 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 the revenue generation for the Nigeria while improving the revenue generation of those countries who also imported the commodity.
“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 compete with the rice coming through the border because we have many unmanned borders through which illegal importation could be done,” he said.
Apart from the policy reversal, Owoeye, 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 the Central Bank of Nigeria at single-digit interest rate.
He added that through the intervention support, many moribund rice mills across the country have been revived and are fully operational.
He assured that with the massive interventions and supports from the government, CBN, Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry and others bodies, the insufficient gap in the rice production in the country would be drastically reduced to barest minimum before the end of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, adding that the country will be close to being self-sufficient.
He declared that the imported rice was not of good quality as the locally produced one, adding that imported rice was not as nutritious as the one produced in Nigeria.
On the price gap between the imported rice and the locally produced one, Owoeye said the price of the local rice especially the integrated milled rice was lower than that of the imported one in the market.
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