FEC approves N5.6bn for erosion control in 6 states

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A total of N5, 567, 314, 541.76 has been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the third quarter soil erosion control accelerated intervention projects for six states.

According to FEC headed by President Muhammad, the states include Kano, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun, Enugu and Bayelsa.

The information was made known by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr.  Femi Adesina, at the post-FEC briefing , along with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Minister of State (Aviation), Heidi Sirika.

According to Sirika, the FEC has approved bilateral air services agreement with Canada in furtherance of its efforts to improve relations between both countries, including trade and commerce.

“It would be a standard agreement to facilitate the movement of people and business transactions,” he said

Also speaking, Ogbe, noted that FEC approved the development of foundation seeds for maize, by the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.

He said the research was at the cost of N165 million for 30 tons of foundation seeds multiplied by 265 tons of improved seeds, which is to be given to seeds companies to multiply.

The minister said one of the problems facing maize production in the country was lack of the right quality.

According to him, this is responsible for the yields per hectare being among the lowest in the world

Ogbe said the council also discussed the disturbing trend of smuggling, which is impacting negatively on the country.

“We have to deal with that because while we are making a great deal of progress in our production of grains, smugglers are trying to compromise the successes we have achieved.

“I can give you some figures. Between September 2015 and now, rice importation through the ports dropped from 644,131 tons to 20,000 tons in September, which means that by the end of this year, to the early part of next year, we can literally say we are close to total self-sufficiency in rice.

“On the other hand, in Republic of Benin, rice importation has increased to 1.33 million tons because they don’t eat parboiled rice; they eat white rice. So, every grain of rice landing there is heading for Nigeria through smuggling and some of it also come in through Niger Republic.

“These are issues to deal with because we want local rice production to meet our needs and we are creating jobs.

“There are at least 12.2 million farmers in the country and they are enjoying life the way they haven’t before. So these are the issues we raised today,” he said.

Ogbe added that the government would beef up its onslaught on smugglers, as the country was currently losing over N5 billion to the nefarious activities.

He said smugglers were responsible for the delay in setting up of rice mills.

“They (millers) spend money to mill the rice and the smugglers dump them at N12,500. The smugglers can dump at N12,500 because they are subsidized from Thailand. They are determined to see that we don’t succeed. We can’t do that because we can’t subsidize to that level.We say if everything goes well without the smugglers, our people should be able to sell at N13,500 per bag,” he stated.

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