The high increase of smuggling of foreign rice into Nigeria’s on daily basis has been described as a serious threat to the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and local production of rice.
The general-manager of Labana Rice Mills, an indigenous rice milling farm in Kebbi State, Abdullahi Idris Zuru, gave the warning while fielding questions from newsmen in Birnin Kebbi recently.
Zuru claimed that over 20 million bags of foreign rice are being smuggled into Nigeria on daily basis.
He said the intensity at which foreign rice is now being smuggled into Nigerian markets is very worrisome and capable of not only derailing the Anchor Borrowers Programme introduced by the federal government to boost rice farming but also sabotage the current efforts to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production especially rice.
According to Zuru, an investigation carried out by Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) between February to March this year, showed that over 20 million bags of foreign rice were smuggled into Nigeria daily through different borders .
He said some rice mills have closed down as a result and many farmers have been discouraged from engaging in dry season farming due to closure of the rice mills to uptake what the farmers produce.
‘‘Some rice processors have either suspended or cut down production because there is no market for Nigerian rice, foreign rice is gradually taking over Nigeria again,’’ he said.
He also warned that allowing foreign rice into Nigeria through smuggling has adverse effects on the economy.
‘‘There is possibility of rice mills going to send off some of their staff due to no production, number of farmers into dry season farming dropped to 30% , many of the farmers could not be able to pay back their loan because of no buyers and people are now turning to foreign rice because of its cheap amount.’’
He however warned consumers of foreign rice to be wary of the fact that most of the foreign rice smuggled into Nigeria are expired.