Saturday, June 23, 2018 9:29 am
Mr Sanni Okanlawon, the Special Adviser on Food Security to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, on Friday advised the Federal Government to apply caution as it planned to close the nation’s borders against rice importation.
Okalawon said that this was to avoid consumption deficit.
Okanlawon told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that though the closure would boost the productivity of local farmers, he added that the ripples effects on certain aspects of the rice value-chain should also be considered.
He said that the milling capacity of the country was at the lowest level and might not be able to meet the production and consumption deficit of the commodity.
“The proposed border closure by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is a laudable one that will boost local production of rice, which is the cascade effect.
“However, let me caution here that before such a step is taken, there must be improved milling capacities across the country.
“Although, the smuggling of rice is not helping matters, our rice-milling capacity as a nation is inadequate. I understand the country produces 500 million metric tons of rice paddy.
“How much of that production do we have the capacity to mill; how many mills do we have in Nigeria, these are questions we should consider,” Okanlawon said.
The aide said that the Lagos State Government was in the process of establishing a rice mill in Imota, near Epe that would be able to produce 32,000 metric tons per hour when it started operations.
According to him, after such high-milling sites have been established across the country, then will the border closure stop the rice smuggling.
Okanlawon said that when the milling capacity of the country was improved, then we would be able to meet our consumption deficit.
“Lagos State has taken several steps to upscale and improve milling capacity; and if other states can do same, then, we will have enough, beat our chest and we can boldly close our borders.
“I want to believe that the minister meant the closure of all the illegal borders,” he said.
The special adviser expressed fears over the various illegal routes in some states of the country that had limited security personnel.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had on June 19, ordered the closure of the land borders to guide against smuggling of rice.