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Rice millers raise the alarm over smuggling, say 50 trucks are smuggled daily


Iliyasu Nazifi

• Say 50 trucks of rice are smuggled daily
Rice millers have raised the alarm over unbecoming rate of smuggling in the Nigeria, alleging that over 50 trucks of foreign rice are smuggled into the country daily.AfricaRice Centre had earlier said smuggling of the product was killing the local industry, and had prevented accurate evaluation of deficit in local production with attending consequences.

Between 2015-2018, no fewer than 200 medium and small-scale rice mills emerged, complementing the existing seven mega rice mills in Kano State and this gave rice production a boost it had never received.The common scenario in places like Kura, Gezawa, Bunkure, Garun Malam and Tudun Wada local government areas of Kano State was to see a cluster of small-scale rice millers doing business, but unfortunately, many of them have been experiencing reduction in patronage.

Chief Executive Officer of Golden Star Rice Mill, Iliyasu Nazifi, said rice production received a lot of interventions from the Federal Government, but the success recorded in the last three years is being eroded.He attributed this to activities of rice smugglers, alleging some level compromise within in the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

He said: “As I speak to you now, many small and medium-scale rice mills are on the verge of folding up because of foreign rice being smuggled into the country. Go into the markets and you will understand what I am talking about,” he said.A rice merchant, Mallam Hudu Badamasi Bunkure, at the Zangon Buhari Rice Milling Centre in Bunkure Local Government Area, told The Guardian that he used to buy 70 bags of milled rice weekly from the centre, adding that in the last three months, demand for the local rice had reduced to 25 bags per week due to what he termed “unfavourable competition with foreign rice.”

Another rice miller, Alhaji Abba Dantata, told The Guardian that he had to cut down 50 percent of his workforce to manage and move the business on, and that it was disheartening to see how foreign rice was being smuggled into the country freely.“This is a bad omen and a threat to all that which the Federal Government has done in the agricultural sector. Many small and medium-scale rice milling companies have stopped operations and many more will do if necessary actions are not taken to address the issue. This will, in due course, affect the mega rice mills,” Dantata lamented.He called on stakeholders to, as a matter of urgency, draw the attention of the customs to brace up and double its efforts in addressing the smuggling menace.

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