Customs, Farmers Sign MoU to Stop Rice Smuggling
By Donald Tseen
Nigeria Customs Service and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to stop rice smuggling into the country through land borders.
President Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo made this known in a press release issued in Abuja.
He said even though the importation of rice through the land borders was banned since April 2016 with an extension to the restriction of rice into the Nigerian market from the Export Processing Zones (EPZ), yet smugglers still engaged in the unwholesome act.
Goronyo warned Nigerians against the consumption of foreign rice, saying that most of the imported rice is decayed and only meant for animal and fish feeds.
He said the result examined by NAFDAC through some samples of some of the rice captured had showe that smuggled rice through the land borders was unfit for human consumption.
According to the president he said that“99 per cent of rice smuggled through the land borders are not fit for human consumption,”
Goronyo said that the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd), reiterated recently at a joint meeting with RIFAN and Customs that rice importation remain banned through the land borders.
To ensure effective monitoring of the land borders, the Comptroller-General has approved a 12-man implementation committee to be headed by Assistant Comptroller-General, Alino Dangaladima.
He said Customs promised to continue to ensure the restriction of rice import through the land borders to boost local production.
He said that the Comptroller-General agreed that there was need for total ban on rice importation and effective monitoring of the land borders to stop the actions of the smugglers.
The RIFAN president added that the customs boss recalled that any attempt to import rice through the land borders would be resisted, saying that the law still stands.
He said the customs told them that it had deployed more officers and men to borders to enforce the order.
He said the enforcement has become imperative because the ongoing Rice Revolution undertaken by many state governments, and Strategic Interventions by the Federal Government Agencies was a step toward self-sufficiency.
According to Goronyo, if adequate measure is not taken to stop the activities of the smugglers, it would have adverse effects on the bumper harvests expected from the rice revolution.
The RIFAN President commended the customs officials for taking the giant stride to reinstate the confidence of the RIFAN and assuring the farmers of suitable markets for their products.
He said that the rice that is coming into the country was very massive and not measurable, but because Nigeria has a big market one could not see the effect immediately, but gradually the local production would suffer for it.
Goronyo said that the annual rice production in Nigeria has increased from 5.5 million tons in 2015 to 5.8 million tons in 2017.