The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, RIPAN, has raised the alarm over an alleged resurgence of rice smuggling in the country, saying that the, if allowed to continue, will reap the farmers of N3.4trn investment.
The RIPAN Director-General, Andy Ekwelem, disclosed this at a news conference held in Abuja weekend.
According to him, imported rice has flooded Nigerian markets despite the ban imposed on the product by government to encourage local production and self-sufficiency.
Mr Ekwelem stressed that if the trend is left unchecked, over 13 million jobs may be lost in the rice value chain.
He, therefore, 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 by PRNigeria 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.