The Federal Government has described as “fake news” the purported report on 2018 Nigeria’s rice importation, by the United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade Report.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who appeared as a guest on News Agency of Nigeria Forum on Tuesday in Abuja said the purported importation data by the USDA was fake and could not be backed by any evidence.
The recently released data from the USDA had alleged that Nigeria imported three million metric tonnes of rice in 2018, which is 400,000 metric tonnes more than the quantity of the product imported in 2017.
The report also purportedly claimed that there had been a steep drop in commercial rice production from its 2015 peak under the previous Peoples Democratic Party administration.
The minister stressed that the data was devoid of any evidence and challenged the body to provide the importation documents.
Mohammmed said: “When I saw that story, I was alarmed, I quickly contacted the Governor of CBN, the Comptroller General of Customs and they confirmed to me that that it is fake news.
“The truth of the matter is that, is it possible for you to import rice into Nigeria without Form M? Where is the Letter of Credit?
“We asked them that the the 400 metric tonnes they claimed came into Nigeria, who opened the Form M and the Letter of Credit and where did the ships berth?
“If you go to any of our millers today, you will see trailers up to two kilometre stretch trying to supply paddy. Our local production has increased.”
The minister said he also spoke to major stakeholders when he got the news and they took the same position that the data was fake.
He said: “The rice millers and the rice growers told me that the combined processed of rice as at today is about 4.9 million metric tonnes which is about 1.1 metric tonnes short of our self-sufficiency, which we are going to achieve in a year plus.
“So, this is the thing about fake news. At times it will wear the cap of an authentic source.”
NAN reports that the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation had issued a statement on the USDA report berating the federal government that the Administration Claim on Rice Production Is False.