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Business News of Thursday, 2 December 2021

Source: nairametrics.com

2 million metric tons of rice smuggled annually into Nigeria - Senate

Bags of rice Bags of rice

The Senate Committee on Agriculture has announced that 2 million metric tons of rice is being imported or smuggled into Nigeria annually.

The Committee also revealed that the production of milled rice in Nigeria was estimated to amount to five million metric tons.

This was disclosed on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, by the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Muhammad Enagi, at the meeting with the multi-stakeholder group on rice council advocacy bill promotion.

The forum was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Global Environment Facility (GEF), in collaboration with Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN), among others.

Enagi revealed that Nigeria’s rice production rose from 3.7 million metric tons in 2017 to 5.0 metric tons in 2021.

"In Spite of this, 6.7 million metric tons of rice is consumed in Nigeria annually, resulting in a deficit of about two million metric tons which is either imported or smuggled illegally into the country,” he said.

He revealed that the bill to establish the National Rice Development Council of Nigeria is to provide guidance on the rice research, comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organization of the rice stakeholders to enhance local production.

He added that it will also establish a rallying point and a comprehensive national operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain, adding that the establishment of the National Rice Development Council will transform the activities of rice farmers, processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other relevant stakeholders across the rice value chain.

"With our natural competitive advantage in the area of rice production, Nigeria should put in place a National Rice Development Council and a comprehensive national rice development road map that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in rice production but also for export.

"The Nigerian rice industry exists in the abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point. We have Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), among others,” Enagi added.

The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, blamed the rising cost of rice across the country on the activities of smugglers.

Ahmed said, “Unfortunately there is a lot of distortion and the distortion is arising from smuggling of goods into the country. We have unpatriotic Nigerians that will bring rice that is of poor quality, some of it not even fit for human consumption and come and dump it in the market.”

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