It is uncharitable for anybody to link the Federal Government and Dangote Group with a plot to ‘flood’ the country with Genetically Modified (GMO) rice, the Presidency said yesterday.
The government was reacting to some individuals on social media to link the importation of killer-rice to the government and the company.
In a statement, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said that the Federal Government in 2014 signed a $1 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for investment in integrated rice project with Dangote Industries Ltd.
The statement clarified that in line with the agreement, Dangote Industries Limited this year cultivated over 8,000 hectares in Hadejia, Jigawa State, creating over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for farmers who are the major beneficiaries of the scheme.
It reads: “In consolidation of the rice project of the Federal Government, President Muhammadu Buhari administration is also in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other reputable companies to tap into the vast potentials in the private sector and broadening the economic base of the country.
“The gains of the diversification drive especially in the Agriculture sector are already yielding dividends as shown by the recent statistics in the sector as published by the National Bureau of Statistics.
“These engagements will continue until the present administration has laid a solid foundation for the economic development of the nation.
“It is therefore ridiculous that a government that is wholly devoted to the generation of employment for Nigerians especially through agriculture will turn around to get involved in an activity that will reverse the gains of the same partnership.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has said it repeatedly that, ‘we have the capacity to feed ourselves in Nigeria and even export from what we produce in the country’.
“He has also said that through the provision of N200 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for small holder farmers and processors involved in local production of rice and other grains, rice importation will hopefully stop in the next three years.”
The statement described as unfortunate that a few self-serving individuals are bent on distracting the administration which has been working assiduously with well-meaning Nigerians to bring the country out of the current economic situation it has found itself.
The government said its efforts at reflating the fortunes of the country through the diversification of the economy which will very soon yield results.
“The Federal Government warns purveyors of such malicious information and those thinking of embarking on the same route to have a rethink and retrace their steps”, the statement said.
Also yesterday at news briefing, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), said that there was no GMO rice in the country as being alleged.
NBMA’s Director-GenerDr. Rufus Ebegba, who made the clarification that the government will not open its doors to what has not been properly released and rejected in other countries.
He said: “The attention of the NBMA has been drawn to a certain online post that a firm and government of Nigeria have flooded the Nigerian market with GMO rice purported to be poisonous. This falsehood definitely is the product of the writer’s imagination who probably is using a pseudo name.
“As a regulatory body established by the government to regulate the activities of modern biotechnology and the release and use of genetically modified organisms in the country to ensure safety to the environment and human health, the NBMA wishes to state that there is no iota of truth in the said post and reinstates that no GM rice has either been imported or released officially into the country.
“In a bid to cast aspersions on the modest efforts of the government towards the adoption of safe biotechnology in Nigeria, the writer craftily and maliciously laced his post with poison to cause unnecessary public panic.”