Stakeholders in the rice milling and distribution chain in Nigeria have raised an alarm over what they described as increasing wave of smuggling of the commodity into the country, worth as much as N1.7billion monthly.
The stakeholders, who spoke under the aegis of the Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIMIDAN), stated that much of this rice come in through Benin Republic.
RIMIDAN Chairman, Tunji Owoeye, explained that the smugglers have been capitalising on the increase in levy on imported rice, as well as Nigeria's porous land borders to smuggle rice, a situation, he stated, had dramatically driven genuine processors and millers out of business.
He said his members' investment in plant and machinery as at mid 2012 was over N100 billion, with the total number of people employed in the value chain about 4.5 million, and added that these were under threat by the activities of the smugglers.
"We complained severally in the past about the negative activities of smugglers of rice and the devastating effects on the nation's economy. From records available to us, the total loss of revenue to the government from this unwholesome activity for the period commencing January 2012 till date is over USD$200 million, which, when converted to naira at the current rate of N158 is about N32 billion," he noted.
Owoeye described the perpetrators of this act as unrelenting, thereby undermining the Federal Government's policies and programmes directed at boosting local food production.