Sokoto — Minister of State for Agriculture Alhaji Bukar Tijanni yesterday explained why the federal government has not banned importation of rice into the country for now.
"Nigerians have grown to like rice. If Mr. President bans rice within a very short time without considering whether the quality rice we produce have reached every nook and cranny, we will suffer Nigerians instead of alleviating the suffering", he stated
The minister was fielding questions from journalists while in Sokoto for a meeting of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, some states and stakeholders involved in dry season rice paddy production. According to him, that was why President Good luck Jonathan took the decision that he would not ban rice now but he will put 30 percent tariff on imported rice.
"Total ban is not yet but 30 percent levies on imported rice so that it would discourage those who are just making money out of Nigerians through massive importation for gains and profit.Mr president has also mandated us that by 2015, we should be self sufficient in the production of rice, that means between now and 2015, that is when the ban will come into force but so far it is a gradual approach," he said.
He said they are looking at best technologies and how rice production is being done effectively and efficiently profitably, adding that the produce coming Nigeria must be of international standard which can compete with any global rice.
The minister said for now they have a record of about 23 rice mills in Nigeria out of which more than six or seven of them are already producing quality rice.
Earlier in a key note address during the stakeholders meeting on dry season paddy rice production, the minister said it was organized in the quest towards attainment of rice production sufficiency by 2015.
Tijjani said they conducted studies which showed that 10 states have advantage of rice production during the dry season. They include Sokoto, Kebbi Zamfara, Kogi, Kano Katsina, Jigawa Bauchi and Gombe states.
He said the accelerated rice paddy production will involve 230,000 hectares across the 10 states and that federal government approved support of 50 percent for it.