The partial border closure by the Nigerian government has put the last laugh on the faces of rice farmers as the price of rice in the international market has skyrocketed due to Coronavirus pandemic. (Reuters: https://cutt.ly/thairice)
Recent media reports reveal that the rise in prices is due to expectations of higher demand for Thai rice after top rice exporters like India and Vietnam both face export disruptions of the strategic staple food due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). (Reuters https://cutt.ly/indianrice)
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, rice-producing nations like Thailand, India and Vietnam are stockpiling agricultural commodities, which translates to tremendous advantage to Nigerian rice farmers as the commodities may likely not get to Nigeria through import apart from the fact that efforts are on to meet the increasing demand for the staple in the country. (CNBC: https://cutt.ly/corofood)
It is on record that Asia produces 90% of the world’s rice supply and consumes the same amount.
In a chat with the Economic Confidential on this development, the National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata said the rice farmers and millers and other processors have been vindicated and that all that they told the government have come to pass.
Maifata said: “We are also aware that in some of the Asian countries including India, rice traders have stopped signing new export contracts as labour shortages and logistical disruptions hamper the delivery of existing contracts, according to reports citing industry officials. The Vietnamese government has also put in export curbs.”
He said their advice to the Nigerian government to close the borders has yielded the desired results, adding that the percentage of foreign rice smuggled into the country through land borders has reduced drastically and will hit the zero level.
“I can confidently tell you that the level of smuggling foreign rice will soon come down to zero level while the local farmers have the capacity to fill the gap conveniently.
“As far as I am concerned, we can meet the local demand for rice, apart from the fact that the development has helped our local processing industry to work at full capacity and the farmers are able to sell all what they produce, and this has encouraged many more farmers to join rice farming”, he said.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, said for now the borders are closed and rice seizures have continued unabated for smugglers of the commodity and no more breathing space for them.
“We are glad that our rice farmers, processors and millers are doing very well in mass food production as they are daily smiling to the banks and our operations have been successful so far”, he said.
Attah further urged the major stakeholders to join in the campaign against the deadly activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitizations that will lead to attitudinal changes on the part of the smugglers.”