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Govt May Back Down On Planned Ban On Rice Importation
STRONG indications emerged at the weekend that the federal government might shelve the planned ban of rice importation.

Hints that government may back down on the plan was given by the Minister of Agriculture, Mallam Adamu Bello who said government was reviewing the proposed ban in view of the present inability of Nigerian farmers, especially rice growers to produce enough for national consumption demand.

The minister was reacting to the concerns of the Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (RIDAN) which had paid him a visit in his office in Abuja to give the association's members view on the planned ban and the way out of the problem insufficient rice production in the country.

Government, it would be recalled, had given a December 2005 deadline to stop rice importation so as to encourage home production of the staple food.

However, the announcement of the impending ban had been greeted with criticisms from various quarters including traders and consumers alike who saw the decision if carried out as capable of leading to food crisis.

They argued that the farmers could not produce enough rice for local consumption demand because they lack the necessary facilities, and therefore any move to place a wholesale ban of the importation of the staple food would cause problems as it would lead to escalation of other food items.

RIDAN, which said it was not against the ban, pointed out that such ban could not come so soon since the nation cannot produce enough rice not only in quantity but also in quality.

Chairman of the Association, Mr. Ademola Majekodunmi had told the minister the danger in rushing to ban the commodity when the local farmers and other growers have not been empowered to produce to self sufficiency.

Right now, we only have subsitence rice farmers, our investigations have shown that whatever is produced now will have to be augmented with importation. We have a long way to go, even imported rice is cheaper than locally produced and yet it is of greater quality than locally sourced one. In the interest of the people therefore, we have to be careful in the way we apply the policy," he stressed.
MGR Archive 16.8.2005
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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