By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has restated the commitment of his administration to fight rice smugglers at the borders and in the markets.
He spoke Tuesday during a meeting with key stakeholders in the rice value chain at the presidential Villa, Abuja.
While thanking the rice farmers for their over Three Hundred Billion Naira investment in rice production, Buhari noted that a significant percentage of these investments were made during the recession which shows their confidence in his policies and programs.
The president disclosed that he will be inaugurating a National Food Security Council that he will personally Chair adding that the council will include Governors, Ministers, Security Agencies and key stakeholders across the entire agricultural segments of farming, fisheries and livestock management.
He said 11 million Nigerian farmers are employed so far assuring that the government will do their bit to ensure they are able to sell quality Nigerian rice at an affordable price.
He said ” this Administration has been providing enabling environment, which led to the successes achieved to date. We shall continue to fight the smugglers at the borders and in the markets.
” We will also continue to invest in infrastructure to further lower the cost of operations.
” Our experiences today of clashes between farmers and herdsmen or the challenges fishermen face due to global warming and other environmental factors clearly demonstrates that our quest for food security has a direct link to our national security objectives. The Food Security Council will ensure alignment and bring efficiencies.
He assured all Nigerians that this administration is committed to Nigeria feeding itself saying ” and from what I have heard today, this can happen in not too distant future.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu disclosed that Nigeria is producing about 17 million metric tonnes of paddy per annum, up from as little as 5.7 million metric tonnes two and half years ago.
He said ” He received report that today in Nigeria we are almost producing about 17 million metric tonnes of paddy per annum, up from as little as 5.7 million metric tonnes two and half years ago.
“The milling capacity has increased, eight new mills were commissioned last year alone with the installed milling capacity almost doubling.
The Rice Distributors particularly that of Iddo, G-Cappa and Elko market in Lagos, came to show confidence in the programme of the federal government of Mr. President as encapsulated in his statement: “Let’s grow what we eat, and eat what we grow.”
“The Distributors confirmed that Nigerian rice is better, more nutritious than imported rice and they are willing to partner so that Nigerian rice will be the dominate rice in the country and indeed we should be able to be exporting.
When asked about rice farmers crying of imported rice flooding the market, he said “Yes of course. Yesterday the Economic Management Team discusses smuggling and today it was an important feature and it has been recognized.
“Everyone who knows Mr. President’s commitment to the Nigerian economy will appreciate his annoyance with smuggling and smugglers. But it is a collective responsibility and so we want all Nigerians to participate the menace in importing the commodities especially in rice.
“The narrative out there is wrong. Other countries are undertaking economic warfare on us, there is no nation in the world that can produce and sell to Nigeria freshly grown rice equivalent to what is produced in Nigeria at the prices that Nigeria farmers are selling.
“So, most of the prices of smuggled rice are discounted prices that reflect the age of that rice and in some aliases as identified by NAFDEC not fit for human consumption.