Thursday, 08 November 2012 00:00
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Association warns FG against rice importation

Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has warned federal government against those clamouring for importation of rice because of the recent flood in the country. Since the flood that ravaged many states in the country and washed away farm lands, some importers have calling for importation of rice to ameliorate the effect of the flood on food production. But, RIPAN at a press briefing yesterday said any attempt for government to open the door of rice importation would make a mess of the government policy on local production of foods.

According to one of the Rice Processors, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Micheal Aadonkaa  the N200 billion set outside by government as bonds for Rice Millers would have been a waste.
Aadonkaa said that the present federal government policy on Agriculture was the best and that government should not allow cabals to destroy it by opening the doors of rice importation because of the recent flood.
The chairman of the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria is Hon. Mohammed Abubakar. Other members of the Association include among other: former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Engr. Charles Ugwu, former Minister of Federal Capital Territory Administration, Senator Adamu Aliero and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Micheal Aadonkaa.

RIPAN chairman, briefing journalists in Abuja on the expected impact of the flood disaster on the supply chain for rice said, “From preliminary investigations in the flood affected areas, it is estimated that about 40% of the Rice Crop may have been lost, particularly in the lowlands/swamp areas near the major rivers. This may create a supply shortage of about 1.5 million tons in the local availability of paddy, translating to milled Rice shortfall of about one million tons.

‘This should not create a major food crisis or food shortage to the level being touted by Rice merchants and speculators, who are advocating massive rice imports.  We acknowledged that the floods may have dealt a serious blow to yam and cassava also (which could have provided some relief in the food chain/basket in the absence of rice grain), yet there is no need for panic and speculative hype calling for rice imports.
‘We urge a careful study /evaluation of the real situation on ground before any panic import/buying of rice and other commodities. We must adopt a measured response to the situation, by establishing clearly, the level of product shortfall thereafter take action to fill or plug such supply gap.    

 “We are completely in agreement with the position taken by Mr. President and Minister of Agriculture, particularly the prompt action they are taking to provide seeds and planting materials enabling the farmers respond appropriately through dry season farming”.
The Association concluding, advised that the federal government should resist the pressure from the cabal of economic saboteurs to abandon and reverse its strategic plan and fiscal policy on the food sector in response to the disaster cause by current flooding in some states in the country.  The federal government should take the campaign for what it is – a false alarm and blackmail.

“If it becomes inevitable to meet the shortfall in local capacity through importation, this should be done by issuing import permits to bonafide local investors in the relevant sub-sector. In the case of Rice, only bonafide members should be allowed to import a predetermined quantity of Brown Rice at concessionary duty rate for a very short period. On no account should finished Rice be imported in view of the damage this will do to local investments in the value chain”.