The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said that importation of rice and wheat gulped over N1 trillion in foreign exchange annually.
Emefiele said this on Thursday in Jibia, Katsina State, at the launch of CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and 2016/2017 Dry Season Farming.
‘’Nigeria’s import bill is exceptionally high; top four import commodities which include rice and wheat, consume over N1 trillion in foreign exchange annually,’’ he said.
According to him, relying heavily on food importation fuels domestic inflation and depletes the country’s foreign reserves.
The governor, represented by the Director, Development Finance, Mr Olaitan Mudassir, said food importation had negative effects on local production industries and created unemployment in the country.
“Indeed, dependence, especially on commodities that have advantage, is not acceptable and sustainable either fiscally, economically or politically.
“Increasing rice production is a necessity as rice importation proffers no future for any nation in the long term.
“Nigeria cannot afford to continually depend on imported rice,” he said.
He said the Federal Government banned food importation to boost farming and diversify the nation’s economy.
Meanwhile The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Thursday said laboratory result of the suspected fake rice showed that the product was not plastic but rice contaminated with micro organisms.
The Acting Director General, NAFDAC, Yetunde Oni, said this at a news conference in conjuction with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Abuja.
Oni said the seized rice was unsatisfactory and therefore unwholesome for human consumption, stressing that the consignment would be destroyed upon handover by the NCS.
She explained that the product branded ”Best Tomato”, was in 25kg bag, without NAFDAC number, batch number, date markings and details of the manufacturer.
She said that `floating’ was negative, sedimentation was positive, cooking was normal, odour was normal, colour was off-white and E-coli was within specification.
She said lead and cadmium were not detected, pre-ashing was normal, ash, moisture and mould were within specification but coli form was above maximum limits.
Oni called on the public to report suspicious cases about all NAFDAC regulated products to any of the offices across the nation for prompt regulatory action.
She also said that the following numbers could be contacted for enquiries: 08013630600, 09094262773 and 08033112282.
The Comptroller-General, NCS, Col. Hameed Ali, said irrespective of the outcome of the laboratory analysis, customs would remain vigilant and alive to its responsibilities.
Ali, who was represented by the Deputy Comptroller-General, Tariff and Trade, Umar Iya, said NCS was guided by intelligence reports.
”Intelligence reports indicate that several metric tonnes of expired and dangerous rice are still lying in wait in warehouses in neighbouring countries and the target of the products is the Nigerian market”, he said.
Ali said that the NCS would intensify patrols to ensure that such economic saboteurs do not succeed.
He urged warehouse owners and transporters across the country not to accept such smuggled products in their facilities or vehicles respectively.
He warned that both the smuggled products and means of conveyance were liable to seizure.