Rice Processors Want FG To Criminalize Sales Foreign Rice

Rice Processors Want FG To Criminalize Sales Foreign Rice

Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RPAN) has called on the Federal Government to criminalize the sales of foreign rice in the country.

The Director General of the association, Mr Andy Ekwelem said this while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday over the influx of smuggled rice into the country.

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Ekwelem said that if federal government does not take a decisive action on smuggled rice, all the mills in the country would collapse and lead to many jobs losses as the rice value chain sub sector has engaged about 13 million Nigerians on direct employment.

He said the government had solved the menace of rice smuggling but with the reopening of borders by the Federal Government, the markets had been flooded again with foreign rice.

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Ekwelem stated that; “We have said it many times on the need for government to criminalise sales of foreign rice in the markets and supermarkets. Rice is number one on the list of prohibited products in which CBN placed forex restriction. It is assumed that any rice you see in this country now, in the markets, shops and even in your homes that is not Nigeria made rice, it is smuggled into the country.

“The country is losing revenue because these smugglers are not paying the right duties to bring the rice into the country and this ugly development is killing our economy. We want a law that will empower law enforcement agencies to go to markets and shops to arrest anyone found with foreign rice because their action amounts to economic sabotage.

“When that is done, people will be discouraged from buying from these people that smuggled rice into the country. We need to take drastic measures against smugglers as well as those selling the products,” he added.

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He however commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his giant stride in the rice production, that there were only six Integrated Rice Mills in the country before 2015 but had risen to about 60.

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The director general noted that most of the mills in the country were now working at half capacity because there were no offtakers for the products they produced for Nigerian markets.

Ekwelem however appealed to Nigeria Customs Service to step up in manning borders to curb the activities of smugglers.

He said the association was committed to standard in rice production and all thier members are committed to maintaining it.

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