Will Ban on Rice Importation Make Any Difference?

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Nigerians spend billions of naira annually to consume imported rice products especially from South-east Asian countries, at the expense and detriment of production of local varieties in places like Ofada in Ogun State, Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, Bida in Niger State and Kano. As the Federal Government moves to ban importation of rice eventually, will this make any difference and encourage a corresponding increase in local production or simply boost illegal smuggling of a staple food product?

ABIMBOLA AKOSILE

* The age-long egg-before-chicken paradox comes to mind. Has importation survived this long due to the failures of local manufacturers or did local production dim because of increased importation? I think people should be able to choose what level of quality they want to purchase in a free market system. Therefore government’s focus should be on the empowerment of local manufacturers towards comparable quality and availability. These merged with the advantage of lower costs will cause importation to eventually will fizzle out while local production gains momentum to attain even higher qualities and scale to hopefully reduce costs even more.
– Mr. Akosile Olubunmi, Akron University, Ohio, USA

* It will make us productive and diversify our economy on rice farming and other food items such as maize, beans, beniseed, groundnut, palm oil e.t.c. We must diversify our economy now, do more research, consume made in Nigeria goods and services, and mop up arms in circulation to protect farmers from Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers e.t.c.
– Mr. Dogo Stephen, Kaduna

* Before we talk of banning rice importation, we must increase our local rice productivity level to avoid food scarcity in the future. All hands must be on deck to support PMB’s economy diversification to agriculture, because this will create jobs and food sufficiency.
– Mr. Gordon Chika Nnorom, Public Commentator, Umukabia, Abia State

* Total and genuine ban on rice importation will make the real difference we have been craving all along. Imported rice is nutritionally low quality, outlived shelf life, fortified with additives, preservatives e.t.c. that are grossly deleterious to human health. Why export our employment potential when our youths and graduates are idling away? We must descend heavily on smuggling to properly Nigerianise and protect our own agriculture now. We must specialise in one or two main products and not all products e.g. rice and tomatoes, through micro-financing to avoid failure.
– Mr. Apeji Onesi, Lagos State

* Yes it will, even though Nigerians have acquired taste for foreign rice. It is also important that the Federal Government commit to local rice production in every sense of the word.
– Miss Nkeiruka Abanna, Lagos

* No, ban on rice may honestly not make any difference on its illegal importation, or smuggling. Our borders are too porous, with difficult terrain and topography to police. We also have official compromises here and there and a well-articulated syndicate who are one step ahead of security often times. It is business time for some powerful, unpatriotic Customs officers who are too connected to be prosecuted. Like in some advanced nations, most banned products find their way back into the country irrespective of heavily armed security presence. We must produce rice that is cheap and above international standard quality to discourage smuggling and diversion. Rice will easily grow in Nigeria and is our staple. Like nursing, farming needs urgent facelift and soft loans to rescue Nigeria from deadly food crisis and breakdown of law and order in the future.
– Ms. Saiki Ometere Tina, Gboko Benue State

* It will make a great difference as it will now expose our local producers who have been shadowed by the wings of our corrupt middle men. The world would now know that we have rice in abundance in our country. Our borders should be well secured to prevent smugglers.
– Hon. Babale Maiungwa, U/Romi, Kaduna

* A ban on rice importation will make a long overdue and remarkable difference. Our local farmers are deprived of what they know how best to produce. And our spate of unemployment is too high to trade away to foreigners; not good at all. Boosting rice production will also protect our agro-industries, naira, power, economy and per capita income e.t.c. Glut will discourage rice smuggling totally.
– Miss Apeji Patience Eneyeme, Badagry, Lagos State

* If the importation of rice is banned, two things will happen, as Basket-mouth says. One Nigerians will replace rice with something else; and two, farmers will be motivated to produce more of the local rice! The ban is welcome, plus better border policing.
– Mr. Ekwenjo Iheanyi Chukwudi, B.A.R., Trademore Estate, APO, Abuja

* A ban on rice importation into our country if well planned will to a large extent boost the morale of our local farmers as well as the young new farmers in our localities. But to do that without a well-defined alternative will amount to hell for all of us. Government must help farmers.
– Mrs. Oge Nwoke, IMT, Enugu

* At the moment our local production cannot meet local demand, so any ban would be counter-productive and encourage smuggling. Government should temporarily heavily subsidise the local varieties to make the foreign ones at least twice as expensive. This will attract an increase in rice farming. The process should be similar to how imported refined PMS is subsidised. Government should buy the processed Nigerian rice, distribute them nationwide to rice depots (silos) and then sell to marketers at a subsidised rate where in turn a controlled price will be set for the marketers not to sell above.
– Mr. Buga Dunj, Jos, Plateau State

* I support it because it will encourage Nigerians to patronise our local rice. After all the rice from Thailand and other countries are local rice to their people also. It would also encourage government to fund local farmers and agriculture as a whole for food sufficiency.
– Mr. Feyi Akeeb Kareem, Change Makers Forum & Ogwashi-Ukwu Civil Society, Delta State

* A total ban of rice importation, if strictly enforced, can make the ideal difference between Nigeria’s dependence on foreign products and in becoming self-sufficient in local rice production and eventual export. If the improved local varieties are made available to farmers across the country for both normal and dry season farming, with adequate storage, processing and access to market, citizens will patronise the local but more nutritious varieties and smuggling will lose its market and appeal. Also, our porous borders must be air-tight and sealed to prevent rice smugglers, who are economic saboteurs.
– Mr. Olumuyiwa Olorunsomo, Lagos State

THE FEEDBACK
Yes, it can: 8
No, it can’t: 2
Others: 3
Radical tip: Seal the borders!
Total no of respondents: 13
Male: 9
Female: 4
Highest location: Lagos (4)

Next Week: Can Nigerians Ever Agree on One Single Issue?

Given our ethnic, cultural, religious, political and educational differences, there is a strong belief that Nigerians can never agree on any single issue for the interest of overall development. Meanwhile, China, with a population of more than 1.5 billion people, agreed to wipe out corruption to move forward and ensure a sane Society. Can Nigeria ever agree on any single issue for our national development? Which issue would that be?

Please make your response direct, short and simple, and state your full name, title, organisation, and location. Responses should be sent between today (April 7 & Monday, April 11) to abimbolayi@yahoo.com, greatbimbo@gmail.com, AND abimbola.akosile@thisdaylive.com. Respondents can also send a short text message to 08023117639 and/or 08188361766 and/or 08114495306. Collated responses will be published on Thursday, April 14