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Food shortage looms next year as neighbouring countries sweep Kebbi rice

Indications have emerged that the euphoria of becoming Africa’s rice producer may fade very quick as neighbouring countries including Cameroun, Chad and Niger Republic are sited in Kebbi rice farms sweeping available processed bags and loading away using smuggling routes.

Only recently, the federal government raised concern of a possible food shortage in the country as a result of mass purchase of Nigerian farm produce by foreign merchants.

The warning actually came from the Presidency raising fears of risks of famine from early next year following a huge demand in the global market targeting the country’s surplus rice and other staple food production.

Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu had few days ago decried that “Huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian food across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of grains by January next year”.

The presidential fears are not farfetched as only last month when the Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello was commissioning a rice processing plant, expressed the fear that the action of merchants from neighbouring countries could expose the country to food insecurity.

Since the launch of Lake Rice by Lagos and Kebbi State governments, reports are rife that Kebbi has become an international market for local rice with main merchants’ being smugglers from countries having borders with Nigeria.

It was as if they are coming to buy up Lake Rice, rather they are preying on Kebbi’s flagship rice, Faro and other budding companies that lacked distribution chain. They include Labana and others.

Governor Bello, it would be recalled observed that the bumper harvest recorded this year has not translated to any fall in prices of food items as a result of the activities of “some individuals who for monetary gains are ferrying food stuff for sale in neighbouring countries.”

He therefore warned that “even though such exports are legitimate, the issue of patriotism and national security should not be played down as merchants get over excited for high profits margins and in the process, neglect domestic needs”.