The ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has said that the recent decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to lift the forex ban on rice importation poses significant challenges for local farmers.
It would be recalled that the CBN recently lifted an eight-year foreign exchange restriction imposed on rice importers and 42 other items.
The Country Director of AAN, Andrew Mamedu, raised the concerns on Wednesday in Abuja during a dialogue and dissemination event on alternative cases, themed ‘Addressing Pollution in Agribusiness and Energy Projects’.
This is as an Alternative Cases Consultant, Donald Ofoegu, said that the energy transition proposal is so important, suggesting a gradual shift from manual processes to energy-efficient fossil fuel use and eventually transitioning to 100 per cent clean energy.
The event is part of the Strategic Partnership Agreement II (SPA II) aimed at transforming societies to become more just, feminist, green and resilient, jointly being implemented by ActionAid Denmark under the Global Climate Justice Programme.
Mamedu, represented by AAN’s Acting Head of Programs, Celestine Okwudili, said that the project aims at developing, promoting, and shifting resources towards viable local alternatives led by women and youths in affected communities that reduce emissions while promoting resilience and providing inspiring examples of what the just transition looks like.
“The challenge is that competition will intensify for local farmers within the gap. If the productivity of local rice increases, and awareness is raised, consumers will be compelled to accept those bourgeois who can afford it.
“The lifting of the ban will negatively impact local farmers, and the government should reconsider. If local rice is insufficient, the government should invest in it. This should be approached as a business, collaborating with state governments, private entities, and individuals to generate income for the local community,” Mamedu said.
He urged the federal government to establish rice processing plants within each local government area to turn it into a profitable investment. He emphasized the need for the government to simplify technology, making it affordable and accessible.
Noting the success of gari processing plants in the Niger Delta, the AAN boss said that government should examine such models, adapt them, and provide alternative solutions going forward.