…13m jobs may be lost
The renewed foreign rice smuggling into the Country is threatening the N3.4 trillion investments in rice processing sub-sector of the economy, the Director General of the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) Mr Andy Ekwelem has said.
Mr Ekwelem, who disclosed this at a news conference held in Abuja weekend, warned that if not checked, the gains already recorded may be eroded just as over thirteen (13) million jobs may be lost in the rice value chain.
He said imported rice has flooded Nigerian markets despite the ban imposed on the product by government to encourage local production and self-sufficiency.
He called for the criminalization of the possession and sale of foreign rice in the country, adding that renewed fortification of our borders by the customs and other security agencies would go a long way in checking the rising trend.
According to him, the new trend is now a source of concern not only to processors who are struggling to compete with their counterparts abroad in terms of quality, but also to growers who are apprehensive that if the trend continues, may be forced out of business.
However investigations have revealed that the recent reopening of some land borders has aggravated the illegal importation of the commodity.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in December, 2020, directed that the four land borders that were closed in 2019 be reopened, precipitating the current upsurge in the illegal business.