NIGERIA Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry , Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has raised alarm over the importation and consumption of Thailand rice in the country, warning that the chemicals used in storing them are harmful to human health.
The Association has also urged government to start thinking of reducing food importation next year.
John Isemede, Director General, told VANGUARD in an interview that Thailand has been exporting into Nigeria rice stored in their silos for 10 to 12 years which have lost their nutrient value.
"After this, they would start selling 8 and 7 years rice in the silos. Why should we buy rice that has been in the silos for twelve years? Don't you think that chemicals that are used to store rice for twelve years can affect human lives?" he queried.
"Did you know what happened last year why the price of rice jumped from N5, 000 per bag to N10, 000? It was because flooding happened in Thailand and the rice they are selling to Nigeria now is the one that has no nutrient values; it's the one that have been in their silos for twelve years
"Why should we import food as an agricultural country? What would happen if the person you are importing from doesn't have tomorrow; what if they have poor harvests?
A very good example was what happened two years ago; Thailand had its own problem of flood which we are experiencing now; as a result of this, the prices of imported rice jumped by 600 percent. The N235 billion being spent on importing rice annually can be channeled to producing local rice at the Benue valley," he said.
On likely famine in Nigeria next year due to the recent flood in some parts of the country, he dismissed Nigerians fear, saying: There won't be famine in Nigeria next year. Let me tell you, the flooding did not destroy cassava 100 percent. So this flooding is not going to be as dangerous as some people thinks. People in the cities consume more of imported things while those in the rural and urban consume more of starchy foods such as yam, cocoa yam, garri, maize, etc. The only thing is that a lot of terrible things have happened in the north; as a result of bombing activities a lot of farmers are not longer there, some of them have relocated. We are going to have problem in respect of agricultural produces like onion, beans, guinea -corn tomatoes, yam, etc.