Thailand exporters have lost 1.2million tonnes of rice valued at N385.2billion ($819.6million) in Nigerian market following import restrictions by the government. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s import restriction has boosted local production by 11.2per cent or 600,000 tonnes from 4.8million to 5.4million tonnes in one year. Last month, Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA), which has also shifted to Benin, Cameroon, South Africa and Angola markets, raised the price of the grain from $678 in August to $683 per tonnes in September, 2020. Data from the United States De-partment of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that local consumption of the grain had fallen from 6.8million tonnes in 2018 to 6.6million tonnes as at August, 2020.
Last year, the Federal Government made moves to attract N250 billion investments in rice production following plans to establish an additional 14 rice mills in the country. However, it was learnt that the price of the grain may further go up this year because of heavy rain and flood destroying crops in the northern part of the country. According to Senior Research Analyst, Financial Derivatives Company (FDI), Temitope Olugbile, scarcity of rice should be expected as 450,000 hectares of rice or two million tonnes had been washed away in Kebbi state out of the expected 2.5 million tonnes this year, noting that this would lead to a high demand for the scarce commodity and price increase.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Bulama Maina, had said in Maiduguri that Borno had the capacity to deliver Nigeria’s rice requirements with continuous support by the Federal Government, Maina said: “Borno has a vast and fertile land for rice and wheat production in Nigeria and West Africa in general.
The land along the shores of Lake Chad is fertile and can be cultivated without fertiliser. If there is security, farmers can make use of the Chad Basin irrigation schemes in Abadam, New Marte, and Dikwa We have over 50,000 registered rice farmers in Borno.” It would be recalled that last year, the country saved N709.5billion ($1.94billion) from rice importation as milled rice hit 4.8million tonnes. According to the National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata, the border closure had yielded the desired results as the amount of foreign rice smuggled into Nigeria has reduced significantly, noting that rice farmers and millers would gain from the partial border closure.
He explained that some of the Asian rice traders had stopped signing new export contracts as labour shortages and logistical disruptions hamper the delivery of existing contracts. He noted that smuggling of foreign rice would soon come down to zero level, while the local rice would fill the gap conveniently.
He urged all stakeholders to join in the campaign against the activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitization to ensure attitudinal change on the part of the outlaws. Between February and April, 2019, a total of 43,000 bags of rice were seized alone from smugglers by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). Also, in 2018, data from the service also revealed that NCS ‘s antismuggling unit seized 320,709 bags of imported rice from smugglers. The service noted that 497,279 bags of imported rice were confiscated from smugglers between 2015 and August, 2017 with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N3.8 billion, while some tonnes of rice valued at N597.7 billion were seized between January and August, 2016.