Preliminary laboratory tests indicate “no evidence” backing claims of “plastic rice” in circulation, health minister, Isaac Adewole said Thursday.
Customs officials seized a batch of more than 100 bags of rice thought to have been “plastic”. Samples were sent out to laboratories for testing.
Adewole tweeted on his personal handle after meeting with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control saying “I have just been briefed by the DG NAFDAC on plastic rice reports,” he said. “Preliminary test results reveal there is no evidence backing claims.”
The rice tested negative for floating, cooked and smelled normal, had regular off-white color. Moisture and pre-ashing tests also indicated normal levels.
In another report, Federal Government dismissed social media reports linking it and Dangote group with a plan to ‘flood’ the country with Genetically Modified rice (GMO) as extremely uncharitable. This is contained in a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr Femi Adesina.
Adesina described the report as the hand work of unscrupulous individuals who were bent on tarnishing the good image of the government. He, however, confirmed that the Federal government had in 2014 signed a one billion dollars Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) for investment in integrated rice project with Dangote Industries Ltd.
“Further to this 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.” According to him, the Buhari-led administration is also in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other reputable companies to tap into the vast potential in the private sector.
This was aimed at 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 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,” he said.
He noted that President Buhari had said it repeatedly “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 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.
“While the Buhari administration is working assiduously with well-meaning Nigerians to bring the country out of the current economic situation it has found itself, a few self-serving individuals are bent on distracting the administration from the avowed focus to restore the fortunes of the country through the diversification of the economy which, very soon, Nigerians will begin to see and experience the results.”
The Presidential aide warned purveyors of such malicious information and those thinking of embarking on the same route to have a rethink and retrace their steps.