However, statistics by a global trade portal Index Mundi revealed that the country imported 1.8million tonnes or 28 percent of local consumption last year, while local production of the grain dropped by 6.25 percent from 5.04million tonnes to 4.7million tonnes in the period.
The government has been making substantial efforts for a decade to encourage rice cultivation in order to eliminate imports through subsidised loans, cheap fertiliser, free farmland and tax rebates.
Also, the Federal Government had made moves to attract N250 billion investments in rice production following plans to establish an additional 14 rice mills in the country.
However, efforts to boost domestic production have been curtailed by smuggling through the porous borders.
Between January and April 2021, the Federal Operation Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Lagos seized 41,652 bags of 50kilogrammes smuggled parboiled rice from Idiroko and Ipokia in Ogun State and Lagos.
Also in Ogun State, 20,538 bags of rice were intercepted by the service between March and April 2021.
Last year, the Federal Government and the Republic of Benin entered into an agreement in Abuja to end the smuggling of rice.
The agreement was sealed between a delegation from Benin, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.
It was gathered that 80 percent of the smuggled grain was imported through Benin as Thailand price stood at $507 per tonne.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata has said that smuggling of foreign rice would soon come down to zero levels, while the local rice would fill the gap conveniently if farmers received the necessary support from the government.
He however urged all stakeholders to join in the campaign against the activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitisation to ensure attitudinal change on the part of the outlaws.
Freight Forwarders applaud Customs over new VIN valuation
Comptroller Kunle Oloyede of Tin Can Island Port, described VIN as a platform for robust gathering of statistical analysis and data for national economic purposes relying on the template of accuracy that will further integrate NCS with other ministries, departments and agencies.
Comptroller Hammi Swomen of Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Command, who sought more cooperation from all stakeholders, stated that sincere declarations without tampering with relevant information contained in Single Goods Declaration or mismatching information will aid in quicker clearance and seamlessness of the VIN system.
Comptroller Anthony Udenze of the Tariff and Trade Department at Customs headquarters urged vehicle importers and their agents to avoid acts that would delay the process of clearing.
He explained that the process of identifying salvage and accident vehicles under the VIN regime would be very transparent as the declarant would be expected to attach photos showing the accidented vehicles.
He further explained that for vehicles to be treated as accidented, the chassis must be affected by the accident not just by removing fenders, bumpers and headlamps.
However, Farinto called for true declaration and compliance on the part of freight forwarders. w2hivh he said will facilitate their clearance of goods and also made the Customs to introduce more changes such as auto release for used vehicles.
U.S. picks 56 young Nigerians for Mandela Washington Fellowship
The United States Mission in Nigeria said it has chosen 56 young ‘changemakers’ for the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) for 2022.
The statement also indicated that U.S. Mission Nigeria has selected 16 alumni from the MWF cohort from 2021 to take part in this year’s Alumni Enrichment Institute.
Kathleen FitzGibbon, Deputy Chief of Mission, made this known at the pre-departure orientation programme in Abuja organised for the beneficiaries in preparation for their fellowship in the United States this Summer.
“For the 2021/2022 MWF application cycle, over 19,000 Nigerians started the application, and over 8,000 submitted the application by the deadline.
“Following this, a total of 56 Mandela Washingon fellowship awards were made available to Nigerians this year,” she said.
In a joyous mood, one of the fellows,
“I believe this will be a game-changer for me and every other fellow as we will learn optimised ways to enhance the quality and widen the scope of impact of our works,” he said.
Chisom Nwankwo, a social entrepreneur and cleantech expert who runs the Skilled Women Initiative said: “after having a Virtual fellowship in 2021 as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, I am really excited to be heading to Drexel University Pennslyvania this summer as an Alumni Enrichment participant of the MWF.”
“I am looking forward to creating new relationships that will be pivotal to the growth of my nonprofit TSWINI and the improvement of my knowledge on sustainable clean technology solutions,” she said.
Babajide Oluwase, the founder of Ecotutu, a cleantech company delivering a suite of cold chain solutions to African businesses, said it is really an exciting feeling for him to be selected for the fellowship.
“Upon completion of my studies in the United States, I look forward to integrating the learnings into my work to advance Ecotutu’s mission of democratizing access to affordable cooling solutions for African businesses.”
While admonishing the fellows, MWF program coordinator, Diran Adegoke, told fellows that the opportunity to travel to the United States is one to be cherished.
While making a presentation on “elevator speech” to the fellows, he encouraged them to present themselves in the best version possible and always remember that they are in the United States to represent Nigeria.
Launched in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship exchange programme of the U.S. government-sponsored Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) created to further the United States’ commitment to investing in the future of Africa.
Each year, U.S. Missions across Sub-Saharan Africa select accomplished leaders, who have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their countries.
This summer, the Fellows will travel to the United States to participate in six-week Leadership Institutes studying Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management at U.S. colleges and universities.
At the conclusion of the Leadership Institutes, the Fellows will attend the annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where Fellows, U.S. government officials, and representatives from businesses and organisations with an interest in Africa engage in high-level sessions and workshops.
After completing the Leadership Institutes and Summit, Fellows are eligible to participate in several MWF alumni opportunities, such as the Alumni Enrichment Institute, that build on the skills and connections developed during their summer exchange program.
Recall that since 2014, more than 5,000 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the MWF with 456 Fellows of the lot coming from Nigeria. Thus far, Nigeria remains the largest contributor of Fellows each year.
Talking about the import of the MWF, Ambassador Leonard said, “The United States is dedicated to investing in the next generation of young Nigerian leaders reinforcing the strong partnership between both nations.
The vision, courage, and drive to innovate of Mandela Washington Fellows will help shape the future of Nigeria for many generations to come.”
Prophet Akinpelu calls for Southeast presidency
Popular prophet, Oludele Akinpelu, the presiding pastor of Living God Freedom Church Àlagbado, has urged the political class to play by the rules and allow equity and justice to have a foothold, saying that it was time for the political system to allow for the president of Igbo extraction.
” We must condemn jungle justice, if the lady had done something wrong let the court of competent jurisdiction decides.
In his message to Nigerians, he urged the people to repent and seek the path of righteous living, adding that the current insecurity situation in the country calls for concerted prayers on the side of both Christians and Moslems.
He attributed the worsening insecurity in the country to the activity of forces of darkness who are bent on foisting a sinister agenda on the country, cashing in on poverty and illiteracy to recruit an army of jobless illiterates to carry out their agenda.
He blamed the current administration for not doubling down on countermeasures against bandits, wondering why the administration is reluctant to name individuals fingered as sponsors of banditry, but added that divine punishment awaited those sponsoring insecurity which had led to the loss of lives of innocent citizens of the country.
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