Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello has called for caution with regards to the export of essential farm produce to neighbouring countries for monetary gains, saying that such ventures may expose the country to food insecurity.
The governor was speaking on Thursday at the commissioning of a modern rice processing and milling plant in Bida, Niger State.
The project was funded by the Government of Korea through the Korea International Cooperation Agency, KOICA.
Governor Bello said that even though such exports were legitimate, the issue of patriotism and national security should not be played down.
He pointed out that the bumper harvest recorded this farming season was a result of deliberate policies of the All Progressives Congress, APC, led administration at the national and state levels, aimed at repositioning agriculture as the mainstay of the economy and to ensure national food security.
Bello however warned that all these efforts by the government would amount to nothing “if we produce so much and our people cannot get the food to buy at a reasonable price.”
He said that it was unfortunate that the bumper harvest has not translated to a drop in prices of food items, a development he attributed to the unpatriotic attitude of some farmers who ferry their farm produce to neighbouring countries just to make a little more money.
The governor revealed that plans were underway between the state government and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to buy off the major food items and store them in order to ensure food security.
He also commended the government and people of Korea for financing the rice processing plant, adding that the development was in fulfillment of his pledge to explore all avenues to attract investors and projects to the state, especially through Public Private Partnership, PPP, initiatives.
Bello directed the state Ministry of Agriculture to ensure proper management of the rice mill by engaging competent hands to manage the facility.
The Korean ambassador to Nigeria, Noh Kyu-Duk said that the gesture was informed by Nigeria’s huge potentials, comparative advantage of cultivating rice and becoming self-sufficient.
He however noted that non-availability of high rice production capacity has been the major obstacle of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production in Nigeria.