Members of the Rice Producers Association of Nigeria, RPAN, led by its Vice President, Mr. Paul Eluhaiwe, visited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to seek assistance on issues threatening production of rice in the country.
The five-man team came to seek the Commission’s intervention towards stemming the tide of rice smuggling, which they noted was threatening the Federal Government’s initiative on domestic rice production.
According to them, they are losing millions of naira in revenue to rice importers as they are now unable to sell their stock due to dumping by the importers.
The importers are a cartel that ship-in parboiled rice into the country through Benin Republic and Niger Republic, from where the produce are smuggled into Nigeria. According to Eluhaiwe, “The smugglers do not pay duties, government loses revenue in the process, a clear case of economic sabotage.”
He disclosed that the rice are imported from India, Thailand and Vietnam, saying “These produce are inferior to our local rice, but the importers are able to sell at cheaper prices because they do not pay duties.”
One of the local producers claimed that he used to sell 10 trucks loads per day before December 2018, but since then, he is barely able to sell two trucks per day. Consequently, he was forced to lay off staff and reduce the capacity of his mill.
He has also not been able to patronise those who supply him as a consequence. These experiences, he said, cut across all producers.
In his response, the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, promised to assist the local producers through an existing EFCC/Customs partnership.