By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
With the second reading passage of the Bill seeking to establish Rice Development Council in the Senate, the required mechanism for sustenance of local rice production and food security in Nigeria has been put in place, said Senator Bima Muhammad Enagi (APC Niger South).
Enagi who stated this Tuesday in Abuja while fielding questions from journalists on the proposed National Rice Council, said the aim is to have a productive ecosystem for the Rice Industry in Nigeria with proper operational and governance structure.
According to him, the council when established, like similar ones in the United States of America known as USA Rice Council, Rice Association of Thailand, Directorate of Rice Development in India etc, will provide necessary policy, regulatory and business environment for increased rice production (quantity and quality), value addition, trade and income.
“It will 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”.
The Council on its own merit he added, “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”.
The absence of a National Rice Development Council over the years, he lamented, has deprived Nigeria of a number of direct benefits derivable from having an organised Rice Industry like timely access to real – time and accurate information data, knowledge and Technology.
This according to him, is clearly evident in the annual drain on the nation’s foreign exchange earnings put about $2billion annually.
The piece of legislation is currently with the Senate Committee on Agriculture for further legislative inputs.