The Rice Importers, Millers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIMDAN) on Wednesday raised alarm over an alleged plan by some importers to flood Nigeria with 350,000 tones of foreign rice in December.
Mr Tunji Owoeye, the President of RIMDAN, said in Lagos that unscrupulous importers have stocked piled parboiled rice in one of the neighboring countries.
“They plan to smuggle the commodity to Nigeria for the Christmas festival.”
Owoeye said that the increase in rice tariff had put the smugglers at an advantage over the genuine importers in Nigeria.
The President of RIMDAN, urged Federal Government to take the necessary steps to prevent the commodity from being smuggled into the country.
“As I speak now, more than four vessels carrying parboiled rice will berth in Cotonou, the Benin capital.
“The country has imported more than two million tonnes of parboiled rice.
“Ironically, the average Beninoise does not eat rice but such commodity is destined for Nigeria.”
According to him, the smuggling of rice costs Nigeria an estimated two billion dollars daily.
“They ship large consignments of parboiled rice into Benin Republic and Cameroon, but we know that the commodity is destined for Nigerian markets.
“It is sad that the government has not taken note of that.” Owoeye also urged the Federal Government to sanction Nigerian importers who indulged in smuggling business.
He said that while the local rice producers were working hard to support government’s policy that encourages self-sufficiency in rice production, some importers still engaged in smuggling.
“This practice is denying the country of the much needed revenue.”
He said that smuggling through Benin, Niger, Cameroon and the incentives for the local rice farmers and processors as well as parity of tariffs with ECOWAS continued to pose serious challenges for genuine rice importers.