The Nigerian Rice Investors' Group has lauded the import quota allocation given to rice investors in the country as a step in the right direction.
The group, which addressed the press in Abuja, yesterday, said that the rice import quota policy of the federal government was geared towards self-sufficiency in rice production in the country.
It said this was the first time import quota was being allocated to the right people with verifiable investments in rice production. The former minister of justice and Attorney General of the Federation, and secretary, Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Michael Aondoakaa, emphasised that prior to the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan's administration nobody had ever wondered who gets what quota. "The truth is that many have had witnessed the old system where some highly connected people influenced the rice quota allocation.
This administration made sure it went to rice farmers with visible investments," said Aondoakaa. The president of the Nigerian Rice Investors Group and managing director of Elephant Group, Tunde Owoeye, said that the rice policy of the present administration is visible for all to see. "If you travel through Zamfara, Niger, Benue, Sokoto and many other states in the country, you will see vast plantations of rice in the last two year.
We have also seen some of our members who were traders make huge investments in local rice production. We have seen increase in employment and value creation in the rice sector, said Owoeye. He further stated that the federal government has provided rice investors with improved seedling and that is the reason rice production is getting better.
On his part, the president of Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors' Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Mohammed, noted that five years ago, there was only one processing mill in Nigeria but the number grew to 24 by 2014.
He said that before President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, rice paddy produced from Nigeria was one of the worst in the world, noting that this has changed. "We process 800,000 tonnes of paddy rice annually and the government is putting measures in place to produce additional 360000 tonne. All these happened with the help of President Goodluck Jonathan and the minister of agriculture and rural development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina," said Abubakar.