The President, Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, who also doubles as the National Chairman, Association of Rice Investors, has hailed the banning of the importation of rice through land borders by the Federal Government, saying the policy will remove the major obstacles faced by local producers.
He said the policy would boost diversification of the economy.
While addressing journalists in Lagos during the week, Owoeye said the key challenge to the rice farmers in the country had been removed by the government with the reversal of the earlier policy which allowed importation of rice through the land borders.
He said the policy had allowed illegal smuggling of rice from neighbouring countries, which he said affected the revenue generation for Nigeria while improving the revenue generation of the countries which exported the rice.
Owoeye said, “This was our stand before, but the Federal Government claimed that we should allow goods to move freely within ECOWAS countries into Nigeria.
“Secondly, the government believed that our much needed revenues would be generated from land borders. Meanwhile, from our experience, we let the government know then that we didn’t have the resources to manage to align with the rice coming through the border because we have many unmanned borders through which illegal importation could be done.”
Apart from the policy reversal, Owoeye disclosed that the governments at both the federal and state levels had also been supporting local farmers along the rice value chain with various intervention funds.
He added that through the intervention, many moribund rice mills across the country had been revived and were fully operational.
Owoeye explained that with the massive intervention and support from the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry, among others, the insufficient gap in rice production in Nigeria would be drastically reduced.