REMARKS BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION & CULTURE, ALH. LAI MOHAMMED DURING THE VISIT TO KANO TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF BORDER DRILL ON LOCAL RICE PRODUCTION ON THURSDAY, 5 DEC. 2019
Good Afternoon Gentlemen.
2. As you are aware, this is the third stop since we kick-started our media tour to assess the effectiveness of the ongoing border drill in four of the country’s six geo-political zones, and also assess the impact of the drill, tagged, EXERCISE SWIFT RESPONSE, on domestic food production, especially rice, the most smuggled staple into the country. We visited the seme border, the epicentre of the rice smuggling, on 25 nov. We then followed up with a visit to the Jibia border in Katsina on monday, 2 Dec.
3. Today, we are here in Kano to assess the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain. We have chosen kano because the state has the highest number of integrated mills in the country. Out of the 34 integrated mills in nigeria, kano state alone has 11, in addition to 20 rice clusters. An estimated 5000 metric tons of finished rice are turned out daily by the 11 integrated mills and 20 clusters in kano. The ratio is 40 per cent from the integrated mills and 60 per cent from the clusters. the mills, combined, employ about 10,000 people. Today, we have visited rice at least four integrated rice mills. they are Al-Hamsad Rice, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd And Umza International Farms, all in Kano, and we have heard from critical stakeholders in the rice value chain. We can now tell you, without mincing words, that the border drill has impacted positively on rice production in the country.
4. Let’s start with rice farmers. before the drill, which some people have referred to as border closure, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, according to the rice farmers association of nigeria (RIFAN).
The farmers were cultivating rice twice a year. now, many rice farmers across the country have started three-times-a-year cultivation in order to meet the increasing demand. This is phenomenal. Not only that, at least 6 million people, mostly youths, are now venturing into rice production, meaning that we could hit 18 million rice farmers in no time if the present trend continues. this is a positive fallout of the border drill. Also, some farmers are now going beyond rice farming and venturing into buying rice paddies and even packaging and marketing. In fact, young farmers are buying small rice mills and off-taking rice paddies from rice farms.
5. What about rice millers? The impact of the border drill is equally heartwarming. before the drill started in august 2019, the existing 34 rice mills and the thousands of rice clusters were practically shutting down due to the pervasiveness of smuggled foreign rice into the nigerian market. In fact, over 200,000 bags of rice were occupying spaces in the warehouses of virtually every integrated rice miller as at that time, according to the rice millers, whose president, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Umza, is also here. the story of
the small scale rice holders or rice clusters was even worse, since they had to abandon their small scale but valuable means of livelihood. The farmers were worst hit. Since the integrated rice millers were already struggling to save their businesses by laying off staff and finding other means to pay off their bank loans with mounting interest rates, buying paddies from rice farmers was almost an impossible task. So the farmers practically stopped farming, with a devastating impact on the income of those farmers and their families.
6. But the story changed in august this year, when the border drill drastically reduced smuggled rice, thus giving the entire rice production value chain a new lease of life. Gentlemen, within one week of the drill, every integrated rice miller exhausted the milled rice
in their warehouses, recalled the staff that were laid off and resumed production. All the existing 34 rice mills that we have in the country are now producing at maximum capacity, 24 hours a day.
7. Currently, the integrated mills now produce about 150,000 bags of rice every day, translating to 35 million bags annually. In addition, the 34 mills are expanding rapidly in order to increase capacity and meet the rising demands. More mills are also springing up in all parts of the country. Also, the small scale rice clusters in all parts of the country are now back on stream and feeding their local communities, and the farmers are the biggest beneficiaries.
8. Gentlemen, Nigeria’s quest to achieve self sufficiency in rice production will be hastened by the increasing activities in the rice production value chain, thanks to the impact of the border drill. Achieving self sufficiency in rice production will also translate to more jobs for millions of our people as well as cheaper and more nutritious rice for all. I want to congratulate everyone in the value chain for cashing in on the opportunities provided by the border drill, which – like i said – has drastically reduced rice smuggling to the country.
9. Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention.