The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr AkinwumiAdesinahas said thefederal government would establish rice levy fund to support local rice production.
Adesina made this known at a public hearing on the federal government’s new rice tariff regime organised by the House of Representatives committee on Customs and Excise.
It would be recalled that the federal government increased levy on rice from 20 per cent to 100 per cent to encourage local production and help boost investors’ confidence in local rice production.
The minister said that the fund would be established from the proceeds generated from the new tariff on imported rice.
He said that Nigeria had the capacity to be the sole importer of rice to other countries if local production of rice was enhanced.
Adesina noted that the continued importation of rice into the country had contributed to the high unemployment among Nigerians.
He alleged that some unscrupulous Nigerians were conniving with importers of rice to frustrate the implementation of the new policy on rice.
The minister maintained that the new rice tariff regime was the best for the country as it would encourage and enhance local production of rice.
Adesina called for stiffer penalties for illegal importers of frozen fish and chicken, which he said, were harmful to the health of Nigerians.
“We owe it a duty to our country to make sure that these people are sent to jail,’’ he said.
He called on the National Assembly to support the ministry with legislation that would enhance its operations.
Adesina alleged that the Nigeria Customs Service under-reported the data of imported rice into the country from 2009 to 2011.