Rice importation report: FG faults USDA, says Atiku’s media organisation goofed ▷ Nigeria news

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– The federal government has faulted the report of the United States Department of Agriculture that Nigeria has imported three million metric tonnes of rice

– Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP had quoted the USDA report, saying the country imported three million metric tonnes of rice this year

– The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, said the report was fake and that the former vice president goofed

The Nigerian federal government on Tuesday, November 6, debunked the report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Markets and Trade that Nigeria imported three million metric tonnes of rice in 2018, Vanguard reports.

Legit.ng gathered that the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also said that the Atiku Campaign Organisation goofed by relying on what he described as a fake report from the US Department of Agriculture.

The report had said that the import figure is 400,000 metric tonnes higher than the quantity of the product that was imported in 2017, adding that Nigeria’s local rice production dropped from 2016 to 2018 compared to the situation in 2015.

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The report ran contrary to several claims by the Nigerian government that local rice production had increased while importation had dropped by up to 90 per cent.

The minister of information and culture briefing State House correspondents, said he had contacted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service, the minister of agriculture and rice millers on the authenticity of the report and that they all dismissed the report as untrue.

According to him, whereas 1.2 million metric tonnes of rice was exported to Nigeria in 2014, the figure declined to 644,000 in 2015 and went further downward to 25,000 in 2016.

He said: “I am sure many of you read the report of United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade Report that falsely claimed that Nigeria Nigeria imported three million metric tonnes of rice in 2018, which is 400,000 metric tonnes more than the quantity of the product imported in 2017.

“And also that local production was on the decline and that these facts fly in the face of government’s claim of what it achieved in the area of rice production.

“I want to say categorical that that story is false. Predictably, the Atiku Media Organisation, this afternoon latched onto the story, we are not surprised. I want to say categorically that that story is fake and that Atiku Media Organisation also goofed.

“Immediately that story broke out, I contacted Central Bank of Nigeria and Comptroller General of Customs, I had meetings with the Rice Producers Association and also with the Millers and they all confirmed that that story is not true.

“For starters, you can’t import rice without a Form M being approved. You can’t import rice without Letter of Credit. So we challenge the US Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade Report to provide evidence that Form M was opened to bring in 400,000 metric tonnes over and above that of last year and that Letter of Credit were open for these.

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“Two, the records are very clear as to the importation of rice, you don’t have to take my words but go to Thailand Rice Miller and the figures are there. In 2014, 1.2 million metric tonnes of rice was exported to Nigeria, in 2015, 644 metric tonnes of rice was exported to Nigeria, by 2015 it went down to 5,000 metric tonnes. These are not my figures, these are figures from the Thailand Rice Association.

“And the claim that local rice production is on the decline is again absolutely false. Yesterday (Monday), when I spoke to the millers, all of them said, please just come to Kano, come to my factory you are going to see two kilometers length of trailers waiting to discharge paddy rice.

“So I want to say category again without fear of contradiction that the Anchor Borrowers Rice Programme is working. Nigeria has been able to reduce by 90 percent the $1.65 billion it was paying on rice importation, the number of integrated rice processing Mills increased from 13 to 25, those are the majors and that between the smaller ones and the big ones, today the capacity is 4.9 metric tonnes of rice.”

The minister expressed confidence that in a year, Nigeria is going to meet the six million metric tonnes of rice production which is the nation’s local consumption.

When asked on how he factor the amount of rice being smuggled into the country into these two arguments, Mohammed said one cannot claim that smuggled rice is part of rice imported into the country.

“Yes, we do know we have a challenge with smuggled rice but we have taken steps to ensure that these menace is contained.

“You remember that we set up tripartite community between the Republic Benin and Nigeria comprising of the two ministers of finance and agriculture and Comptroller General of Customs of both countries.

“Two, we have been able to reach an agreement with the Benin Republic President to allow Nigeria Customs officials to be present at the Cotonou Port. And you know that only a week ago Mr. President jointly commissioned the border building within Benin Republic. These are all attempts made to contain smuggling.

“Again to say local rice production has gone down is absolutely untrue. We have grown rice farmers from five million to 12 million, those facts are out there. We have created prosperity for rice farmers. We have about 32 or 34 states that produce rice, you can ask them.

“So you see, this kind of information is not only misleading but it is capable of generating a lot of misunderstanding. So I say with all emphasis at my command that that story is part of the fake news we are fighting.”

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“I am not surprised that the Atiku Media Organisation latched unto this story and unfortunately they goofed because what they ought to have done, when I was in their position as an opposition was to check with Central Bank, with Customs, rice farmers association and the millers. And I have contacted all of them and what I am telling you is what I am telling you,” he added.

Legit.ng previously reported that following criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari by Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, the social media aide to the president, Lauretta Onochie, listed 64 achievements of the president in the agricultural sector.

Recall that the federal government was charged by the organisation to list its visible achievements since the APC took the mantle of leadership in 2015.

Onochie took to her Facebook page on Thursday, October 11, to list the achievements, which include the initiation of Home Grown Feeding Programme by the president.

2019 Election: Is Atiku the right man to defeat President Buhari? – on Legit.ng TV

Source: Legit.ng

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