The Senate has said Nigeria would save about $2 billion on rice importation and improve the country’s foreign exchange earnings with the passage of a bill seeking to establish the National Rice Development Council.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.
Chairman of the Committee, Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), in his presentation, said that the bill seeks to establish a Council that would lead to a comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organisation of rice stakeholders to enhance local production of rice in Nigeria.
He explained that the establishment of the Council would transform the activities of rice farmers, rice processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other important stakeholders across the entire rice value chain, particularly the clusters of smallholder rice farmers and small scale millers spread all over the country.
Adamu said, “Mr. President and Distinguished Colleagues, with our natural comparative advantage in the area of rice production as a country, Nigeria should consider the need to put in place a National Rice Development Council and a fail-safe comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in production, but also for export purposes, employment generation for our teaming youth and growth of our economy.
“The Nigerian rice industry exists in abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point.
“Today, we have Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, Rice Millers Association of Nigeria and many more.
“This Bill seeks to establish that rallying point and a comprehensive National operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain process.
“Mr. President and Distinguished Colleagues, this Bill on its own merit will improve government efforts for efficient policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian Rice Industry; promote enabling business and investment environments for Rice stakeholders; support the growth of the Rice industry in Nigeria and in the sub-region as well as promote the sustainability of foreign exchange earnings put at about 2 billion dollars annually for Rice related importation to the country.
“The framework created by thịs Bill will pull investment into rice production, provide the missing link between rice production and industrialization, provide employment, reduce migration from rural to urban cities and enhance socio-economic activities all over the country.
“Few countries having Rice Council include Rice Council of Tanzania, USA Rice Council, Directorate of Rice Development (India), Rice Association of Thailand, among others.”