The chairman, Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Hon. Abubakar Mohammed has said the massive smuggling of rice into the country if not checked, will kill the huge investment of private sector stakeholders in the rice value chain.
He added that the threat if not checked will kill off the investment amounting to over N200 billion with a capacity well over 1.5 million metric tonnes a year.
The Association while briefing the Media in Abuja on Thursday lamented that continuous smuggling if not checked will kill off the huge investment made by the federal government in the various rice intervention programmes.
According to him, “Information at our disposals shows massive smuggling of finished rice into Nigeria. Our investigation showed that these products are berthed and warehouse at Republic of Benin, Niger and Cameroun at very little import duties and then pushed into the Nigeria markets where they eventually make unconscionable profit having paid zero duties at our borders.
“We have it on good authority that the government of these countries provide the smugglers with necessary assistance (such as warehousing facilities, local transporting logistics) because of the import duties accusing to the treasuries.”
He said it will also kill the huge investment of private stakeholders in the value chain and undermine the zeal of over 25 million farmers across the country who had responded to the present administration diversification efforts via agriculture.
Asserting that amongst countries in West Africa, only the Nigeria market consumes parboiled rice, the Chairman called “on the Presidency to engage the government of the neighboring countries on modalities to fashion out joint anti-smuggling initiatives in tackling illicit smuggling of rice into the Nigerian borders, while urging that such countries increase their tariffs on rice”.
Also commending the efforts of the Nigerian Customs Service to stop smuggling of rice into the country since the assumption of the new Comptroller General, the Chairman said the efforts of the Service was under threat due to the activities of the smugglers in active connivance of some men of the service.
He plead that the NCS investigate and severely punish conglomerates involved in the smuggling and diversion of rice as their sole aim is to break the will of the Nigerian government. And frustrate local production, asserting “it is economic sabotage”.
The Chairman also called on them to collaborate with the Department of Security Services and other security agencies to design a strategy to track the unpatriotic elements and bring them to book. We recommend that the security agencies set up a committee that will do a guerilla raid on markets to pick up samples of the rice products, trace and apprehend their sources and confiscate the products as deterrent measures.
“We at RIPAN will stand by to provide the Custom Service with the necessary. Information and support at our disposal,” he said.