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Smuggling, insufficient paddies threaten local rice production, say processors

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Activities of rice smugglers are threatening the nation’s efforts on food security, processors have said just as the Federal Government has decided to sign the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfFTA) which manufacturers say may destroy local industries.

A gradual decrease in production of paddies is equally escalating the challenges of rice millers.

Although, the present local production has substantially improved to about 3.5 million tonnes annually, the marginal difference is still far below the country’s consumption, which hovers around 7 million tonnes.

Alhaji Aminu Ahmed, a key player in rice production and processing, lamented to The Guardian that Nigeria is gradually becoming a dumping ground to smuggled rice, while the local industry is struggling to produce enough.

Ahmed, the Managing Director of Tiamin Rice Limited, a rice milling firm in Kano, emphasised that despite a marginal decrease in the level of rice importation, local production is still threatened.

Ahmed said one of the challenges of millers is inability of farmers to supply paddies to the processing mills. He stressed that even with vast land and increasing level of cultivation by farmers, the quantity of produce is still low.

The owner of the rice mill applauded the government’s interventions and supports to stakeholders to boost rice sufficiency in the country.

According to him, “Our major challenges in this industry is smuggling and non-availability of paddies. The government bans rice importation, but if you go to the marketplaces here in Kano, you will see how everywhere is flooded with foreign rice. What that means is, the smugglers have returned to work and with porous borders, our business is not save.

“When the policy was pronounced about two years ago, the government took some steps on the policy with all seriousness, making it almost impossible for rice smuggling through the borders into the country.

“With all sincerity, we all noticed the impact. Local production improved, more job opportunities were created, our foreign reserves were preserved and millions of naira spent on importation dropped. But we have begun to feel the impact of the smugglers again.”


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