Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has said that over one million metric tons of rice valued at $400 million (N145 billion) was smuggled into Nigeria since the beginning of 2019, which is detrimental to local industry.
At a press briefing in Abuja to express solidarity with Federal Government’s partial closure of land borders, National Chairman of RIFAN, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar said when viewed either from the trade or security points to view, the action being coordinated by military and paramilitary forces was commendable.
He accused neighbouring countries and some multinational companies of conniving to sabotage food security and economic prospects of Nigeria with smuggling through Benin Republic.
According to the proprietor of Umza International Farms, there was additional 500, 000 tons of rice already ordered through Benin Republic by smugglers for the Christmas season.
Abubakar explained that RIFAN has a surveillance team that monitors activities at the Cotonou port.
He lamented that since the Federal Government restricted importation of rice, import of the commodity from Benin Republic had drastically increased.
“Only Nigerians eat parboiled in West Africa as others including Benennois eat white rice.
“And so, any parboiled rice imported into Benin Republic is only on transit to Nigeria,” he explained.
Abubakar who was accompanied by other members of the association expressed the delight of members that mills that were producing below installed capacity have started revving up production.
“Rice paddy that have been been lying idle in stores are now being milled because distributors are increasing demand.
“We are also assuring Nigerians that we and other rice producers have the capacity to fill the loophole that absence of smuggled rice would create.
“We have also committed ourselves in writing to government that we will not take advantage of the situation to increase prices.
“A bag of 50 kilogramme rice will sell for a minimum of N13,300 and maximum of N14,000,” he stated.