Review of rice tariff policy to encourage local production – Adesina

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ABUJA – The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the downward review of tariff on rice importation was to encourage local production and processing of rice.
Adesina said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja while explaining the reasons behind the policy shift.
“Why are we are changing our rice policy? It is so that we encourage lot of investors to go into production and milling of rice domestically.
“We want to discourage those that bring rice as traders; we want those that are going to go in and have commercial farms, produce rice, buy domestic paddy rice and mill it for us.
“So the rice tariff policy is being looked at to discourage briefcase importers of rice but encourage those that are going into local production, processing and milling of rice.
“And that policy will be released very soon; you will see that we have chosen the path of supporting those that are investing in Nigeria, not those
that are going to be bringing rice from outside.“
The minister said that government would not allow any rice importer to create poverty in the country, saying that poverty is not an industry that should be developed.
On dry season farming, Adesina said that the 2013/2014 programme was going on in 24 states of the federation with the aim of producing 2.1 million tons of rice.
He said that the figure was equivalent to 75 per cent of the total rice imported into the country, if it could be milled at international quality standard.
He added that the 2014 Dry Season Farming Support Programme launched by President Goodluck Jonathan was aimed at making 600,000 farmers to benefit from a N14 billion grant.
According to him, the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that more integrated rice mills are established in the country as local rice is better than the imported brand.
“I am confident that by 2016 or there about, Nigeria will be self-sufficient in rice with the amount of local production we have today,“ he said.
The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had indicated that downward review of tariff on imported rice was in the offing.
She said the former increase of the tariff on rice importation to110 per cent, encouraged farmers to grow rice up to 1.1 million tons.
The minister, however, said that the increment also encouraged neighboring countries to smuggle the product as they immediately dropped their own tariffs by 10 per cent. (NAN)

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