Government’s neglect of neighboring countries worsens rice smuggling in Nigeria
Attempts by the Federal Government to tame importation of rice into Nigeria through the land borders may remain elusive, as indications have emerged from industry watchers that the situation was getting worse.
The situation is such that unless drastic measures are taken against neighboring countries, local rice millers may not strive despite government’s drive to attain self-sufficiency.
Although Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Bukar Hassan, recently noted that no rice was imported into the country through the seaport in 2017, Nigerians continue to buy foreign rice.
It is, however, important to note that among other countries, Thailand constitutes a major threat to the country’s self- sufficiency drive, but there is the need to take out the landing point from where the produce are smuggled into the country.
Managing Director Agro Nigeria, Richard-Mark Mbaram, at a press briefing in Abuja on the upcoming Conference on Rice scheduled for April 12 and 13, said there was the need to take definite, radical measures against the neighboring countries.
He pointed out that the countries that share border with Nigeria were stockpiling rice more than they could consume to the extent that if they had to feed their people with it they would be eating rice in their sleep.
He said: “There is no point playing the big brother, there is no point putting necessities to the fore. It is about our life as a nation and the businesses of our people. These are corporate entities, if their businesses are challenged, government must let them know that if Benin Republic and Cameroun does not desist from the act, clear economic measures would be taken against them.
Mbaram stressed the need to raise the issue at the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) and African Union (AU) level, adding that it should not be held under the table as people’s businesses were being threatened and government must deploy clear measures to show their concern.
He further stressed the need for government to look into the advantages that attract smugglers so as to get a better way of shifting their attention from smuggling and that bilateral agreement could be reached with countries so that they could change their stance.
He pointed out that the conference was put together to chronicle the country’s march towards self-sufficiency in rice production, noting that although the country was making steady progress in rice production, there was the need to motivate the private sector and mainstream them into action.
He disclosed that Kebbi and Ogun states would participate in the conference while the big players in the industry would be given opportunity to address some of the challenges affecting the sub-sector.
The Representative of Syngenta, Ephraim Manga pointed out that some of the challenges facing rice farmers include poor quality input and low technology adoption by Nigerian farmers.
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