The Federal Government has been urged to have a re-think on the plan to ban rice importation into the country as from 2015.
The Managing Director, Attajiri Rice Mill Sokoto, Alhaji Nura Attajiri, gave the advice yesterday, saying the plan is not feasible, as local production by farmers cannot meet the demand for the commodity.
Speaking during an interview with sources in Sokoto, Attajiri maintained that the proposed ban on importation of rice in 2015 would be counter productive, pointing out that local production of rice was low in the country.
According to him, out of the 50 million metric tonnes of rice being consumed in the country annually, 21 million was imported from China, India and Thailand.
Attajiri, who is a large scale rice farmer and an industrialist, emphasised that banning rice importation in 2015 would make lifedifficult for Nigerians due to inadequate production of the commodity by local farmers.
“As a large scale rice farmer that has been in the business since 1983 and also engaged in irrigation farming all year round, I know the negative effects of importation of rice on the economy. But the truth of the matter is that banning importation of rice in 2015 without commensurate local production would be counter productive.
“Most of the people that collect agricultural loans from government for paddy rice production are not genuine farmers. I strongly believe that it will take some time for Nigerian farmers to meet local demand and this can be achieved only if government is determined to put in mechanisms to ensure that only genuine farmers are empowered,” he said.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to provide incentives and empower small, medium and large scale farmers in order to achieve the desired targets.
Attajiri said to this end, government should empower local producers and processers of rice with loans, grants and other forms of assistance to produce more.
The Managing Director stated that government should also sensitise Nigerian youths on the need to engage in farming activities and also see it as a profitable venture while capacity building should be conducted regularly for farmers on how to use fertilizer and improved varieties of seeds.
Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)