The federal government has revealed plans to reduce rice import tariffs for local rice farmers and dealers who import the commodity on a small scale to make up for their shortfalls in 2014.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who revealed this during an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP on Friday, explained that the reduction in tariff for those groups of people was to serve as an incentive for more local investment.
Adesina also said that 29,500 farmers will benefit from the N9.9billion cassava development fund established by the federal government recently.
"We have the full data of the 29,500 farmers who will be in clusters producing cassava and to support them, we have just launched the probation of N3.5billion facility to set up 80 agricultural equipment hiring centres across the country that will have tractors, harvesters and other farming equipment."
According to Adesina, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Bank of Industry (BOI) to that effect, "We are signing a facility of N2.4billion with the BOA which is part of the cassava bread
development fund to facilitate the availability of inputs and services for 29,500 farmers across the country.
"We are trying to extricate Nigeria from a dependency on imported rice. A lot of the rice in the country today is 15 years old rice, that is loaded with all kinds of chemicals, but our local rice is fresher, healthier, maybe a little bit more expensive today".
He argued that the imported rice could be sold a lot cheaper because it is junk. "If I am selling you junk, I can sell it for nothing. If I am selling 15 years old rice, it is almost like selling livestock feeds, so Nigerians should be patient with us; we are doing the right thing".
The Minister further revealed that Dominion Farms, a foreign company with a Nigerian local partner in Taraba State had invested 40 million US dollars in rice production and all the markets will be flooded with Dominion rice in 2014, adding that the size of the farm is about 30,000 hectares and the production will replace over 15 per cent of all the rice being imported.