Some Nigeria Rice Brands

Rice Smuggling: Stakeholders complain of threat to N3.4trn investments

*Rice Processors Association of Nigeria expresses concern over smuggled foreign rice brands that have flooded Nigerian markets, threatening N3.4 trillion investments in local rice mills across the country

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As result of the rising spate of smuggled foreign rice brands in the Nigerian markets, local rice processors have cried out that their N3.4 trillion investments for processing the staple food are under threat from produce smugglers.

Mr. Andy Ekwelem, Director-General of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), who spoke to reporters at the weekend in Abuja, FCT, said to save the investment, the processors urged the Federal Government to criminalise the sale of foreign rice.

The RIPAN Director-General regretted that smuggled foreign rice brands have flooded Nigerian markets again, threatening the existence of local rice mills.

Ekwelem warned that most Nigerian rice mills were under threat of shutting down with attendant job losses as investments in the sector were threatened by the activities of smugglers.

Rice smuggling on motorcycles along Badagry Road in Lagos State   Photo: File

According to him, Nigerian rice mills have employed over 13 million workers in 3.2 million cottage mills that employed at least five workers each.

Ekwelem said: “At a time, the government tackled the menace of rice smuggling. But immediately after the activities of #EndSARS movement and reopening of borders by the Federal Government, the markets have been flooded with foreign rice.

“We have said it many times on the need for government to criminalise sale of foreign rice in the markets and supermarkets. Rice is number one on the list of prohibited products in which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) placed Forex restriction on.”

He pointed out that “it is assumed that any rice you see in this country now, in the markets, shops and even in your homes that is not Nigeria-made rice is smuggled into the country.

“The country is losing revenue because these smugglers are not paying the right duties to bring the rice into the country and this ugly development is killing our economy.”

The RIPAN Chief recalled that since the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention in local rice production, investments by integrated rice processors, down to cottage rice millers scattered all over the country, were over N3.4 trillion.

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