Rice smuggling is economic sabotage – Kebbi governor

Ene Okwanihe

The Kebbi state Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has said that rice smuggling, if allowed to continue, will have a drastic effect on the Nigerian rice market and the government’s plans to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture

Governor Bagudu described the situation as an attempt by other rice producing countries to sabotage rice production in Nigeria.

Senator Abubakar Bagudu stated this in an interview with a team of Agriculture Correspondents in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi state capital, North-West Nigeria.

He said countries like Vietnam, America and Thailand auction rice that have been in storage for close to 10 years at give away prices to some companies that import rice and they bag and package it 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.”

Governor Bagudu said other rice producing countries would not give up easily and allow one of its biggest markets which is Nigeria, to be self-sufficient in rice production.

He said they will fight to make sure the country’s dream of attaining self sufficiency is 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.”

Bagudu also 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.

“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”

 “Rice is an easy crop to produce and 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 added

Governor Bagudu said Nigeria needed to push forward her agricultural products to the world for it to be recognized, adding that Agriculture has helped reform the lives of hoodlums, political thugs and boosted the means of livelihood of the common man in Kebbi state.

Governor Bagudu said with the Federal Government diversifying the Nation’s economy from oil to Agriculture, it encouraged many people to go into successful farming.