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RiPAN silent on scarcity of local rice in markets hails border closure

Leadership of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RiPAN), has hailed the policy decision of the Federal Government to shut down the Nigerian-Benin Republic border, saying the action would help curb the menace of rice smuggling and boost productivity of operators in the sector.

According to the association, which failed to give details of its rice productivity and performance in the market before the border closure, said “the move was needed to address the rising case of rice smuggling into Nigeria from neighbouring countries, adding that the country would have lost $400m on smuggling of foreign rice through the land borders”

President of RIPAN, Mohammed Maifata, who spoke to Business Hilights Bureau chief in Abuja, said “the closure was long overdue and in the best interest of the economy.”

He claimed that “The rice value chain is back on track as the hitherto subdued mills had resumed operations within one week of the border closure.”

While stressing that from January to date, over one million metric tonnes of rice were brought into Benin mostly from Thailand and India, Maifata said “We came to let the whole world know that we support this action and we are with the government in this journey.

“We will support them with all what we can, in terms of information and statistics – whatever they need from us – we are ready to do it.

“We want the whole nation to support the government in this fight: it is for the benefit of Nigeria. I want you to know that the insinuation that we cannot feed ourselves with rice is not true.

“We as an association met yesterday and tasked ourselves to produce massively so that we can fill the gap voided by the smuggling activities. And we are up to the task and are determined to do it.”

According to him, “By this action of government, it has opened up many things within this week of closure of the border.

“All the mills are now open producing at almost 100 per cent capacity. Procurement of paddy has resumed by the millers and farmers are happy because they are expecting new harvests in November.”

RiPAN boss claimed further that “Already, an order for half a million tonnes was placed by smugglers in anticipation of the Christmas period. They hoped to bring it in November. These are things we already know; a lot others come in containers.

“The implication is that everything that comes to Benin comes to Nigeria because no other country in the West Coast eats parboiled rice; it’s only Nigeria.”

While assuring that his association resolved not to take undue advantage of the situation to hike the price of the commodity which many Nigerians say they are yet to see in many Nigerian markets including Lagos, Maifata revealed that “In terms of pricing and supply, he said the association had agreed to sell the product for between N13, 300 and N14, 000.”