Two million metric tons of rice smuggled into Nigeria annually, senate committee says

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has said about two million metric tons of rice is currently being imported or smuggled into the country illegally.

This is just as the committee said in 2021, the production of milled rice in Nigeria was estimated to amount to five million metric tons.

Vice-Chairman of the Committee, Senator Muhammad Enagi, who disclosed this in Abuja at the meeting with the multi-stakeholder group on rice council advocacy bill promotion, stated that Nigeria’s rice rose from 3.7 million metric tons in 2017 to 5.0 metric tons in 2021.

The meeting was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Global Environment Facility (GEF) in collaboration with Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN).

Enagi said; ”In Spite of this, 6.7 million metric tons of rice is consumed in Nigeria annually, resulting in a deficit of about two million metric tons which is either imported or smuggled illegally into the country”.

He noted that he sponsored a bill to establish the National Rice Development Council of Nigeria to provide guidance on the rice research, comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organization of the rice stakeholders to enhance local production.

According to the Lawmaker, the bill seeks to establish a rallying point and a comprehensive national operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain.

He urged the government to consider putting in place a National Rice Development Council and a comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide the country into self-sufficiency and export.

He added that the establishment of the National Rice Development Council will transform the activities of rice farmers, processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other relevant stakeholders across the rice value chain.

”With our natural competitive advantage in the area of rice production, Nigeria should put in place a National Rice Development Council and a comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in rice production but also for export.

”The Nigerian rice industry exists in the abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point. We have the Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) among others.

Earlier, the Founder/ Executive Director of WOFAN, Dr Salamatu Garba, expressed concern over the high rate of food importation into the country.

Dr Garba said the importation of agricultural produce, especially grains, is still witnessed to a higher degree than imagined, leading to worsening food inflation and subsequently fueling hunger, poverty and insecurity.

“Nigeria’s worsening food insecurity in the wake of climate change challenges, insecurity, low financing of the agriculture sector especially mechanisation and poor situation of the country’s research institutions are threatening the economic stability of our nation’,’ she said.

She noted that the Nigerian Rice Council Advocacy will empower rice farmers to grow more rice in a sustainable way and increase paddy production to 30 million metric tons in five years.

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