The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed yesterday raised the alarm that Nigerians were being exposed to the consumption of expired rice meant for animals in their countries of origin.
Mohammed raised the alarm during in an interview with newsmen in Oro, Kwara State.
The minister blamed the development on smuggling pointing out that if the affected rice had been put under scrutiny they would have failed NAFDAC test because most of them have been on shelf more than six years and had expired.
He added: “The rice being imported now are not fit for consumption in their countries of origin. They are also being subsidized and sent here even in credit because those people know that they are unfit for consumption; they are only fit for animals.
“Imported rice is mostly smuggled into the country because they cannot pass NAFDAC test. No Nigerian rice is more than one year old but the imported ones have spent even six years in their countries. “
He promised that in the next one and a half years Nigeria will become self-sufficient in rice production given the commitment of the administration to agriculture.
He said: “In the area of agriculture, it has been a huge revolution. Let’s take one of our national staples, such as rice, as an example. When we came in, there were 5 million rice farmers. Today, we have in excess of 11 million rice farmers. Our rice import has been cut by over 80 per cent. These didn’t happen by accident. It was a result of our Anchor Borrowers Programme. There are more millionaire farmers today than at any other time in the history of our nation. Today, Nigeria is closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice than at any other time in the history of our country.
“This Administration has employed 500,000 unemployed graduate under its Social Intervention Programme (SIP). No government in our country’s history has ever done that. This administration has been daily feeding 8.5 million school children in 23 states. That has never been done before in Nigeria. This administration has been proving N10,000 every two months to over 300,000 families as social security for the most vulnerable. This has never been done before in Nigeria. This administration, realising that SMEs are the biggest employers of labour, has been growing such enterprises at an astronomical rate through its Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme. This is unprecedented.”