The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria Mr. Audu Ogbeh has described the report by a United States organisation that Nigeria imported 3 million tons of rice into the country in 2018 which is more than it has imported before as mischievous and aimed at demoralizing rice farmers in the country.
The Minister stated this while speaking to Journalist in Otukpo in Benue state North central Nigeria.
According to him the most Nigerians stayed away from rice importation in 2018 because the import duties are heavy.
“The duty is so heavy that most Nigerians don’t import rice anymore, after that report, I went to the Central Bank of Nigeria, I met with the Governor and asked how many letters of credit he opened for rice importation this year,” he said.
Mr. Ogbeh said in the last few years Nigeria has cut down on rice importation by over 90 percent.
“Some of these reports with all due respect are meant to demoralize our people here, smugglers are smuggling rice, we fight them, we seize them, official importation of rice is as low as it ever was, unless they can tell us which company imported rice, paid the duty at the port, who cleared it, if they don’t, let them give us more details of what they found because with all due respect, I don’t like some of the comments of some of our foreign friends here, everything we do is wrong, and Nigerians absorb that message.”
“The minister said If they know who imported, which company, who the clearing agent was, if they are talking of smugglers through the port in Cotonou, that’s a different story, even then, am not sure that 3 million tons was imported,” he added
Based on available figures on rice production in the country Mr. Ogbeh questioned the credibility of the report.
“How do they seat in the out there US and know everything that happens in our ports, is it credible, I know how many rice mills we have today, what their output is, how much more efforts are going into rice production, we know we have cut down rice importation by nearly 90 per cent, how would they know how much rice is being grown, which one them has ever been in a farm or going to the local rice mills that we have, Kano alone has 1240 rice mills, Kebbi has 3 giant rice mills, then in Jigawa, Ebonyi, Anambra, go to shops and see the label of rice on sale today.”
It will be recalled that the United State Development Agency reported in the past week that Nigeria rice importation had increased to 3 million ton, the highest it has ever been.