Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The presidency has refuted report on social media that it planned to flood the country with genetically modified rice in conjunction with the Dangote Group.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the attempts by unscrupulous individuals on social media to link both the government and Dangote group to such plan were extremely uncharitable.
He said it was ridiculous that a government that was wholly devoted to the generation of employment for Nigerians especially through agriculture would turn around to get involved in an activity that would reverse the gains of the same partnership.
He stated that the federal government in 2014 signed a $1billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for investment in integrated rice project with Dangote Industries Limited and that in furtherance of this agreement, Dangote Industries Limited this year cultivated over 8,000 hectares in Hadejia, Jigawa State, creating over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for farmers.
Adesina said in consolidation of the rice project of the federal government, President Muhammadu Buhari administration was also in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other reputable companies to tap into the vast potentials in the private sector and broadening the economic base of the country.
He said: “The gains of the diversification drive especially in the agriculture sector are already yielding dividends as shown by the recent statistics in the sector as published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“These engagements will continue until the present administration has laid a solid foundation for the economic development of the nation.”
According to him, President Buhari has said it repeatedly that the country has the capacity to feed itself and even export.
Adesina said the president was hopeful that with the provision of N200 billion by the CBN for small holder farmers and processors involved in local production of rice and other grains, rice importation should stop in the next three years.
He said: “It is unfortunate that while the Buhari administration is working assiduously with well-meaning Nigerians to bring the country out of the current economic situation it has found itself, a few self-serving individuals are bent on distracting the administration from the avowed focus to reflate the fortunes of the country through the diversification of the economy which, very soon, Nigerians will begin to see and experience the results.
“The federal government warns purveyors of such malicious information and tho
se thinking of embarking on the same route to have a rethink and retrace their steps.”