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RIFAN calls for proper distribution of locally produced rice

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), on Friday called for proper distribution of locally produced rice to meet up the country’s need of the commodity.

RIFAN’s South-West Zonal Coordinator, Mr Segun Atho, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the development of the sub-sector was a primary step to meeting the rice need.

Atho spoke against the backdrop of the report that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had on Oct. 6, ordered the immediate lifting of the ban on the importation of rice.

He said that lifting the ban on rice would disrupt the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s diversification drive and the green alternative initiative of the agricultural sector.

The zonal coordinator said that farmers needed to be empowered for self-sufficiency and sustainability rather than consider importation of rice.

“We expect the government to be proactive in terms of empowering domestic farmers to ensure they grow rice. Banning or no banning is a secondary issue.

“It is when we say that we have a shortfall that the government can import to augment, but then, what happens to the rice harvested in all the states of the nation.

“I wonder why government should be talking about exportation when we are not self-sufficient; it is when we are sufficient that we can talk about sustainability and exportation.

“Government should look at ways to make home grown farmers to continue with production otherwise, a lot of farmers will back out,’’ he said.

The coordinator added that the production of local rice was progressing gradually across the country with Kebbi producing about 1.5 million metric tons of rice annually.

“If Kebbi can produce 1.5 million metric tons and Zamfara, Niger and other states are making good production, then what is our problem, we need to put our acts together.’’

NAN reports that the customs Public Relations Officer, Mr Wale Adeniyi, had said that all rice imports through land borders would attract the current import duty of 10 per cent with 60 per cent levy.

Adeniyi also said rice millers with valid quota allocation would also attract a duty rate of 10 per cent with 20 per cent levy on rice importation.

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Hameed AliRIFAN

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