Some stakeholders in agriculture have lent their support to the renewed commitment of the Nigerian government to shut border with a yet-to-be identified neighbouring country to address smuggling activities, according to monitored reports.
Aminu Goronyo, president of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), responding to the plan announced by agriculture minister, Audu Ogbeh, said it would not only save the market of local producers, but also help to sustain current government initiatives across the country and the strategic interventions being championed by it.
He said a glut was likely to happen from the adverse impact of a bumper rice harvest, should the government fail to take effective measures against smuggling.
“It is a step in the right direction to ensure self-sufficiency, enable the country to make progress, crash the market prices of locally produced rice and make the huge investment on rice production to be more meaningful,” he said.
Although rice importation via the land borders was banned since April 2016, rice smuggling still continues on a huge scale from neighbouring countries, while rice production in Nigeria had moved from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.
In 2015, Nigeria spent about N1 billion daily on rice consumption with increased local production encouraging demand.
Goronyo who commended president Muhammadu Buhari for stimulating massive production countrywide, assured that the association would continue to support the country’s drive for self-sufficiency in rice production.
Goke Adeyemi, the chairman, Harvest Feed and Agro Processing Limited (HFAP), also urged the government to effect ban on the importation of corn starch to encourage cassava starch producers in the country.
Noting it is imperative to protect local industries that produce cassava starch, Adeyemi said: “The corn starch is going to affect the sale of our product. We have enough raw materials to produce edible cassava starch for local use and exportation to earn foreign exchange, but government needs to help local producers.”
“Cassava has the potential to industrialise Nigeria more than any other product if its potentials are properly harnessed; it is a key instrument for job creation and catalyst for development,” he added.
Nigeria is the leading cassava producer in the world, producing a third more than Brazil and almost double the production capacity of Thailand and Indonesia.