AGRICULTURE and Rural Development Minister Muhammad Sabo Nanono has said the land border closure had resulted in increased productivity among the nation’s rice milling plants.
He said those operating below capacities before the closure had begun to increase production.
The minister said Nigeria would start exporting its rice in the next two years.
Nanono addressed reporters yesterday after a working visit of the Nestle Nigeria Public Limited Company (PLC) office in Lagos.
The minister recalled that before the closure of the land border, mot of the rice milling plants were partially operating they not now operate fully and are expanding.
He said: “If we maintain the momentum in the next two years,we may export rice to other countries. I was worried in terms of the production of rice, but what I have found out is that most rice producers have stocked rice for the next six months.
“This means that before the stock is finished, dry season rice will be harvested, and before that finishes, rainy season will come back.”
Nanono explained that it is only between November and January that rice is not grown in the country.
“We cultivate rice in a nine-month cycle; probably, as we move on, the cycle will widen. So, we do not have a problem with rice processing,” he said.
The minister also said there had been an expansion of local rice value chain as well as the creation of more jobs due to increase in the production of the commodity.
On production capacity, Nanono said: “Today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day.”
He added that in a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day will be opened with 34 other smaller mills.
Also, Kwara State Chamber of Commercial, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KWACCIMA) has hailed the Federal Government for its border closure policy.
KWACCIMA noted that the policy had made Nigerian manufacturers to be active and productive.
It said the closure had also led to the creation of more wealth among the populace.
KWACCIMA President Ahmed Raji stated this while addressing reporters yesterday in Ilorin, the state capital, ahead of the conference to boost women and youth participation in entrepreneurship, commerce and governance.
Raji said though the closure might not go down well with the country’s neighbours, the policy had prevented Nigeria from remaining a dumping ground for foreign rice.
“The policy has had positive effects on local manufacturers. It allows manufacturers to be more active and productive. Our farmers are now up and doing as it enables them to create wealth.
“It will also create the avenue for our products to compete favourably with others. The closure is also bringing ingenuity to our farmers. As far as we are concerned at KWACCIMA, the policy is a welcome development,” he said.
The KWACCIMA president noted that the closure had reduced the proliferation of light arms and ammunition into the country, thus reducing the country’s insecurity.
On the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 per cent, Dr Raji said the Federal Government had cushioned the effect of the increment by exempting the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) from the new financial law.
“For this reason, I can say that the tax has no effect on us,” he said.