‘Nigeria should lift ban on importation of rice now’
Mr. President, it’s been two years since your government imposed a ban on importation of rice. We all believed that the policy decision was made with best intentions as you wanted to encourage our indigenous farmers and increase our domestic food production.
To this end, your government gave various loans to farmers, which should have geometrically boosted our domestic agricultural production. But today, the scarcity of food stuff, especially rice, is beyond belief. As a result, the cost is exorbitant.
As you may be aware, hardship in any nation is always trivialised when there is food on the tables of the masses. But, that’s not the case in our beloved country today – the majority of our compatriots are starving and going to beds with empty stomachs.
Mr. President, your administration has certainly tried for our rice farmers. The administration strived to give them a competitive edge over their foreign counterparts, but they didn’t meet our expectation.
Thus, your regime has proved a point by closing all our borders. But it’s time you rescinded this policy decision. Besides, Franc CFA is already higher than naira in value.
Let it be that anyone bringing rice into Nigeria should pay duty as Bénin Republic government is doing to those smuggling fuel from Nigeria into the country. That may also prop up our domestic producers, and could force them to review their prices too.
Mr. President, we have seen relatively improved power supply, access roads repairs and improved transportation system. But all these matter little or nothing to hungry people. To tackle this national challenge, Nigeria simply needs a state of emergency on insecurity and same on hunger, for there’s concrete hunger in the land.
Mr. President, it is obvious that people, especially the millennials, prefer rice as staple food to others. If other items cannot be immediately considered for importation, rice should be exempted now.
• ONMATA is a Lagos-based electro-mechanical engineer.