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All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has advised rice farmers to double their production because of the Federal Government’s plans to close part of Nigeria’s land border to stem rice smuggling.

Mr Femi Oke, the Lagos State AFAN Chairman, gave the advice in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday.

He underscored the need for rice farmers to increase production and take advantage of the higher demand for local rice that would ensue from the nascent enforcement of the ban on rice imports through the land borders.

He said that the Federal Government’s pronouncement on its plans to close Nigeria’s land border with a neighbouring country to stop rice smuggling should motivate rice farmers across the country to increase production to meet local demand for rice.

“The nation has the capacity to produce enough rice to feed its population and also export.

“With the promotion of local rice production since 2016, rice farmers and producers have been able to break the country’s total reliance on rice importation.

“Besides, the giant rice milling plant established by the Lagos State Government, individuals, in areas where rice is cultivated in large quantities, now have cottage rice milling plants.

“Beyond that, Nigerians are now beginning to have a preference for local rice because of its nutrients, health benefits, taste and durability,’’ he said.

Oke said that the association would support the Federal Government policy on the closure of the land border to check rice importation and smuggling.

He noted that huge amount spent for rice importation could be used to help farmers to grow more rice for local consumption and export.

However, the state AFAN chairman said that private sector organisations and individuals should be encouraged establish small-scale rice processing plants near rice plantations.

Oke noted that rice farmers in Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo, Ogun, Lagos, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Benue, among others, were producing rice in large quantities.

He said that tangible efforts should be made to establish more rice milling and processing plants across the country because of the large quantities of paddy which the rice farmers produced.

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