Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has raised alarm over the massive smuggling of finished rice into the country from the Republic of Benin, Niger and Cameroon.
They alleged that their investigation have shown that the product are berthed and warehoused in the countries at very little import duties and then pushed into the Nigerian markets where they sell at exhorbitant rate.
The Chairman RIPAN, Abubakar Muhammed during a media briefing yesterday in Abuja pointed out that among countries in West Africa, only Nigerians consume Parboiled Rice and investigation showed that 1million mt of parboiled rice berthed at Republic of Benin.
He said “we have it on good authority that the government of these countries provide the smugglers with necessary assistance such as warehousing facilities, local transporting logistics among others, because of the import duties accruing to to the treasuries.”
Mohammed said the combine investment of local rice producers of over N200million is threatened because of smuggling activities and if the menace is not checked, it would kill off the huge investments made by the federal government in the various rice intervention programmes.
He said it would also kill the huge investment of the private sector stakeholders in the rice value chain and undermine the zeal and undermine the zeal and efforts of over 25million Nigerian farmers across the country who had gone back to farming in response to the present administration’s call for diversification of the economy through agriculture.
RIPAN urged the federal government at the highest diplomatic level to engage the governments of the neighbouring countries on modalities to fashion out joint anti-smuggling initiatives in tackling illicit smuggling of the rice into the country borders, stressing the need for the countries to increase their tariffs on rice.