Tuesday, December 19,
2017 02:17PM / Ade Adefeko*
Rice consumption in Nigeria is almost entirely of parboiled rice. In West Africa only Nigeria consumes parboiled rice. Other West African countries including all the neighboring countries to Nigeria ( Niger, Benin, Cameroon, Chad) are not consumers of parboiled rice. In Africa only South Africa is the other major country that consumes parboiled rice.
The shipments of parboiled rice from India and Thailand into Lome , Cotonou and Douala ports is a very fair estimate of smuggled rice into Nigeria as none of these countries have internal consumption of parboiled rice. All the imports of parboiled rice into these countries finally find their way into Nigeria.
Smuggling of Parboiled rice from across the borders (mainly Benin Republic) is creating a major disaster for the rice industry in Nigeria. The below data which is collated from the customs department of exporting countries, shows the amount of rice that are being shipped to Benin, Cameroun, Niger etc. These neighboring countries don’t consume parboiled rice! All these rice is eventually smuggled into Nigeria with the full knowledge of these countries respective authorities.
Such huge quantities of rice cannot be smuggled in without them being loaded into big trucks or barges! These needs proper roads and hence can be intercepted easily.
If the border management is difficult due to the huge swaths of land border, the authorities can raid the markets and confiscate contraband commodities. Once this is done no trader would ever buy smuggled rice! If we can’t beat them at the borders then choke the market place which is within our territory.
The Nigeria rice farmers and millers are losing livelihoods to smuggling! The government is not only losing revenue but the self-sufficiency goal as well due to the heavy influx of smuggled rice from across the borders.
The industry associations have been notifying the government of this menace but little has been achieved so far! Moreover the rice millers have found that it is a challenge to procure large quantity of paddy in a reliable way. As a result most of the rice mills are operating below capacity.
*Ade Adefeko is the Chairman of NACCIMA EXPORT Advocacy group
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