These are desperate times and desperate times requires desperate measures. People need food.
Truth is, people are hungry!
Indigenous rice farmers have lamented the increased activities of rice smuggling at the nation’s porous borders.
The stakeholders reported that the current trend has increased and poses serious threats to local investment in the nation’s rice industry.
The Executive Director, Nigeria Agriculture Development Watch, Dr. Johnson Idowu, stated that “The ripple effect of rice smuggling into the country would lead to a mass laying off of staff and redundancy.
“Interestingly, the Minster of Labor will soon come on air to issue an ultimatum to these companies not to sack.
“Let us do some elementary geography.
“Nigeria is bounded in the North, West and South by Niger Republic, Republic of Benin, and Cameroon respectively.
“None of these countries is a rice producing nation per se.
“So what is the rationale behind opening the borders for rice importation from these countries?
“The only reason there is an increase in rice importation activities in these countries is because they have favorable tariff and policy for rice importation,” Idowu revealed.
“Unpatriotic business men hitherto in Nigeria i.e. rice importers have since diverted their businesses to these countries.
“Whereas you may not blame them, opening the land border is to encourage them further to export rice to Nigeria from these countries.
“Moreover, why would we want to continue to favor neighbors in terms of job creation and revenue generation from rice import rather that adjust our own policies in order to boost our own revenue generation, and to make businesses return”, Idowu asked.
The General Manager of Oyus Brown Rice limited in Ebonyi State, Mr. Francis Okpani, said rice smuggling has dealt a blow to local rice farmers.
“Now, we are not producing enough to feed ourselves.
“We need more rice into the country but not through smuggling.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari is considering the appointment of Hadiza Bala as the new boss of Nigerian Ports Authority.