Monday, October 27, 2014

Nigeria Imports Three Million Bags of Rice In October

Nigerians imported 165, 852 metric tonnes of rice in the first three weeks of October this year, amounting to over three million bags of 50 kilogramme of the commodity.

With an average market price of N10,000 per bag, about N33.2bn would have gone into the purchase of this essential food item in just 21 days.

This figure is 51,952MT higher than 113,900MT of rice imported in September this year, according the latest statistics obtained from the Daily Shipping Position, compiled by the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Traders and economists attributed the surge in the volume of rice import to the end of the year festivities.

A trader, Mrs. Ronke Adeoye, noted that some people were already stockpiling the product in anticipation that the price could shoot up in the last two months of the year, ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Many corporate firms often buy rice for distribution to their customers and workers as part of the end of the year gifts.

The rice import is still high despite the Federal Government’s imposition of additional 60 per cent tariff on its import this year.

To encourage local production of rice in the country, the government had earlier this year raised the tariff on imported rice to 110 per cent. But due to pressure from importers and other stakeholders, who observed that the local production could not meet the demand of consumers, it was slashed to 60 per cent for rice traders and 20 per cent for rice mill owners

In a conversation with our correspondent, the Vice President, Rice Sellers’ Association, Daleko Market, Alhaja Silifat Akinsete, said apart from the popular Ofada rice, they had yet to see any other Nigerian cultivated rice in the market.

She added that the ‘Ofada’ rice which had been in existence over the years was more expensive than the imported rice which was readily available in the market.

The President, Rice Importers and Millers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, said that some rice importers had started embracing the backward integration policy by taking up rice mills that were no longer functioning to produce rice locally, adding that without the policy they would not have thought of acquiring the mills.

According to him, the reason why the locally produced rice has not reached the South West was that the integrated mills are located in the northern part of the country and they are being sold in the environment where they are cultivated and milled.

The RIMIDAN boss said, “The government has done a lot in interfacing with dealers with new incentives. We are beginning to take ownership of the local rice production policy. Government can give further support through the reduction of smuggling by the custom officers. Our interest is to feed our people and get employment for our youths. We support the government strategies because we need to fix our homes before we stop importation.”

On his part, the President, Nigerian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Chief Femi Orebote, said that to ensure high quality of rice production, improved technology should be learnt from experts in the field from Thailand.

He said that the recent review of the policy on importation of rice, which initially encouraged smuggling, made Thailand to feel concerned about the business in the country, adding that it was willingly to extend its expertise to Nigerian farmers.

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