Chairman of the Umza International Farms LTD, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata on Sunday, December 27 2015 denied the involvement of his company in smuggling of rice through land borders.
While reacting to a report titled: Inside the massive fraud in Nigeria’s N117bn rice import quota scheme, he said instead, his company has contributed immensely in enhancing the country's local rice production through its Kano plant.
Maifata who is also the National President of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria(RIPAN) said that the report was sponsored by some foreign and local merchants who are all out to thwart the success being recorded in the country’s rice value chain.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, Maifata said “ It is most disheartening that Premium Times, an online Newspaper claimed to have conducted an investigation into the alleged massive fraud in the rice import quota and even went ahead to publish their falsehood without even respecting the basic tenets of journalism of hearing from the other side who were maligned by their malicious falsehood before publication.
“ The truth and the fact of this matter is that Umza International Milling Plant has a current milling capacity of 72,000MT per annum and the company is currently in the process of further increasing the milling capacity to about 120,000 metric tons per annum.
“ In this vein, we challenge Premium Times, its paymasters and sponsors to a working tour of Umza International Rice Milling Plant in Kano at our expense in the company of independent experts from any part of this world to determine the true capacity of our mill,” he said.
He added that Umza Farms has been partnering with USAID in the last three years to train and sponsor over 10,000 rice farmers.
He also shed some light on their partnership with Rice Farmers Association in Kebbi State where Umza Farms has proven its investments in rice value chain where they are currently working with farmers especially from Suru Local Government Area in the cultivation of paddy.
While making reference to the report that Umza has been importing foreign rice from Thailand as laughable, he said the record of his company on the importation of rice is very straight and well documented with both the Nigerian Customs service and other relevant organizations.
He added that Umza Farms has only imported rice in occasions where the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were concerned about the capacity of the local millers to meet the local rice consumption/demand and had encouraged the local rice millers to import rice in order to bridge the gap between what is locally produced and what is consumed.
He continued, “Outside these occasions where Umza Farms is duly licensed to import rice for national interest, Umza Farms has not and never imported rice as part of its core business plan. Umza Farms is strictly a local rice milling plant and would never dabble into rice importation as its ordinary business.
“ It’s so unimaginable to think that Umza Farms could be waging a war against its own business going by the falsehood perpetrated by Premium Times when it maliciously and literally stated in the said online publication that Umza Farms is involved in rice smuggling,” Maifata said.