By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Kebbi State Governor, Mr Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, has accused some rice producing countries, especially in Asia, of deliberately frustrating efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari administration in achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
While addressing newsmen in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital in an interview, the Governor alleged that these countries use the media to do what he termed as economic sabotage.
He warned that if rice smuggling was allowed to continue in the country, it would have a drastic effect on the Nigerian rice market and the government’s plans to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture.
He noted that other rice producing countries would not give up easily and allow one of its biggest markets, Nigeria, to be self-sufficient in rice production.
The Governor said they will fight to make sure the country’s dream of attaining self-sufficiency was not achieved so they look for every means possible including using the local and international media to push the agenda.
“These countries try to make you to not produce so that they can continue dumping on you,” he told reporters.
According to him, countries like Vietnam, America and Thailand auction rice already in storage for close to 10 years at giveaway prices to some companies, who import them into for Nigerian market.
“When such rice comes into the country they tend to be cheaper than our locally produced rice because the process of production is not the same.
“The Nigerian rice is fresh as it takes a maximum of about 6 months to harvest the rice and mill and the process starts from the scratch unlike the imported rice that was auctioned at give-away prices,” Mr Bagudu said.
He described rice as an easy crop to produce, pointing out that Nigeria has the soil for it.
“Almost all the states in Nigeria have Fadama soil which is good for rice production; we should be able to maximize this potential for the benefit of our economy,” he said.
“One of the major challenges Nigeria faces is that we the indigenes have not been able to see the huge potentials in the agriculture sector,” he added.
Mr Bagudu urged Nigerians and particularly the media to portray the country as an agriculture economy to the international community rather than an oil economy as the era of oil has gone.
He said Nigeria has to see crops like rice as an international trade crop as Nigeria has the ability to feed the entire West African region with rice.
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