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Local Rice Farmers Groan as Smugglers’ Activities Boom at the Borders


News » Business
Nigeria

Image: Bags of Rice

May.01.2013

 

Despite the pledge by the federal government to protect local rice farmers by discouraging importation of rice, the smuggling of imported rice is yet a booming business across the nation’s borders. This has prompted the local rice farmers to now cry out for help from government.

The rice farmers are bemoaning the fact that rice smugglers have overrun the customs officials  at the borders. .

 

A new group of local growers under the aegis of Patriotic Rice Association of Nigeria, (PRAN),” said in Abuja on Monday, that “massive and incessant smuggling of rice into Nigeria has thrown the rice industry into a  turmoil with severe consequences for government revenues, the economy and future plans for rice self-sufficiency.”

The statement jointly signed by Alhaji Habibu Maishinkafa, Chairman and Mr. Martins Okereke, Secretary, said given the free reign enjoyed by rice smugglers, “a bleak future lies ahead of local rice growers and traders legitimately involved in rice trade.”

 

Tracing the origin of this sorry state of affairs in the country, the association said: “the Nigerian rice industry seems to have been thrown into a turmoil since the import tariffs were increased exponentially effective January 2013. Matters got complicated further with the reported inability of Nigerian Customs to control smuggling of rice across the country’s borders with Benin.”

According to PRAN,  the higher tariff and consequent high market prices have rather encouraged smugglers to push large volumes of rice into Nigeria with zero duty, thereby bungling FG’s efforts to make Nigeria self sufficient in rice production by 2015.

 

The body  decried the situation in which “large-scale investments made into the farming and milling industries by private businesses are also in jeopardy, following Customs’ inability to protect the industry from the vagaries of smugglers.

PRAN quoted reports that suggest that more than 400,000 metric tonnes of rice from various origins are estimated to enter the country illegally, dealing a major financial blow to legitimate importers and rice millers.” Needless to add, these illegal imports result in substantial loss of revenue for the government, estimated to be in the range of N27 billion by industry observers,” they asserted.

 

“The Nigerian rice consumers are in the process shortchanged,” they went on, “with inferior brands being smuggled and then re-bagged into quality brands and sold at higher prices”.

They further alleged that several vessels with cargoes totaling more than 220,000 metric tonnes from India and Thai origins have flooded the ports of Benin and Cameroun preparatory to entering the Nigerian market through the borders.

 

Vessels from India involving 90,000 metric tonnes to Benin include MV Lord Curzon, MV Santa Barbara, MV Zeynupkiran, MV Emenates and MV Captain. “Vessels from Thailand with cargoes of more than 130,000 metric tonnes are shipped to Benin on vessels MV White Fin, MV Makra, MV Blanco Zealand and others. Several container loads totaling over 150,000 tonnes since the start of 2013 have also started penetrating through the borders through Benin, Niger Republic, borders with Northern Nigeria and in the east with Yaounde. More than eight million bags of rice have flooded all markets including Alaba, Daleko, Idi-oro, Singer and other prominent nationwide markets”, their statement added.
They lamented that smugglers have reportedly used sophisticated weapons in attacking and killing customs staff, instilling fears into the officers across the borders.

PRAN said they were joining the prominent rice associations in the country to urge  the Nigerian Customs  to be able to contain any further damage.

 

Article Credit: Thisday Newspaper

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Updated 6 Years ago
 

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