Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, has declared that rice imported to Nigeria for consumption is poisonous.
Bagudu, the Chairman, Presidential Task force on Rice and Wheat Production, told newsmen on Sunday in Birnin-Kebbi that the imported rice was usually auctioned by countries because they were no longer good for human consumption.
He disclosed that there were three major importers of rice into the country who specialised in importing very cheap, auctioned rice into the country.
“Countries, particularly Thailand, India, China and Vietnam, buy a lot of paddy from their farmers and keep in storage sometimes, as long as nine years, so that by so doing, they are supporting their farmers”, Bagudu said.
“A country like Thailand, for example, may have eight million tonnes of rice in storage; so occasionally, they will auction the ones that are almost going bad that is, the one that is not fit for human consumption.
“They sell the paddy as low as 20 per cent less than the international market price.
“Those that import rice into Nigeria will go and buy the paddy and clean them up.
“Because they do not buy rice at the international price, our local farmers who are offering rice for $500 will not be competitive.
“If that importer is to buy fresh rice, he cannot bring it into Nigeria below $700 per tonne.
“This is the biggest obstacle to our rice efforts because consumers say local rice is expensive; it is not expensive because we are not comparing it with equivalent rice elsewhere,” the chairman explained.
The governor said that out of the 600 million tonnes of rice produced in the world, Nigeria produced about six million tonnes which represented one per cent of the production.
Bagudu said that rice could grow in the 36 states of the federation and called on stakeholders and citizens to come together to significantly advance rice production.