The Presidency, on Wednesday, refuted claims that the Federal Government will flood the country with imported poisonous rice.
A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, described attempts by unscrupulous individuals on social media linking the government and Dangote group with a plan to ‘flood’ the country with genetically modified rice (GMO) as extremely uncharitable.
According to the statement, in real terms, the Federal Government, in 2014, signed a $1billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for investment in integrated rice project with Dangote Industries Limited.
It explained that further to this agreement, Dangote Industries Limited, this year, cultivated over 8,000 hectares in Hadejia, Jigawa State, creating over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for farmers, who were the major beneficiaries of the scheme.
The statement added: “In consolidation of the rice project of the Federal Government, the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is also in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other reputable companies to tap into the vast potentials in the private sector and broadening the economic base of the country.
“The gains of the diversification drive, especially in the agriculture sector, are already yielding dividends as shown by the recent statistics in the sector, as published by the National Bureau of Statistics.
“These engagements will continue until the present administration has laid a solid foundation for the economic development of the nation.”
The Presidency, therefore, noted that it was “ridiculous that a government that is wholly devoted to the generation of employment for Nigerians, especially through agriculture, will turn around to get involved in an activity that will reverse the gains of the same partnership.”
It recalled that President Buhari had said it repeatedly that “we have the capacity to feed ourselves in Nigeria and even export from what we produce in the country.”
According to the statement, he had also said that through the provision of N200 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for small scale farmers and processors involved in local production of rice and other grains, rice importation would hopefully stop in the next three years.
The statement further said: “It is unfortunate that while the Buhari-led administration is working assiduously with well-meaning Nigerians to bring the country out of the current economic situation, it has found itself, a few self-serving individuals are bent on distracting the administration from the avowed focus to reflate the fortunes of the country through the diversification of the economy which, very soon, Nigerians will begin to see and experience the results.”
The Federal Government, therefore, warned those it called purveyors of such malicious information and those thinking of embarking on the same route, to have a rethink and retrace their steps.