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FG should allow importation of Rice through seaports – NAGAFF

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Abiola Seun

A chieftain of the  National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Segun Musa, has asked the federal government to allow importation of foreign parboiled rice into the country.

Speaking against the backdrop of the closure of land borders by the federal government, Musa said government should allow importation of foreign rice because Nigeria hasn’t reached self sufficiency in rice.

According to him, since the nation’s milling process is faulty, there is no country around the world where the government says that everybody must consume locally-made rice.

He said, “there is no way the government can stop this. What the government needs to do is to allow this thing to come in and whatever revenue that must be collected on the commodity can be given out to all these rice farmers and millers to improve the quality of rice.

“There is no country around the world where the government says that everybody must consume locally-made rice. You can only make the imported rice premium rice, where people will pay more.

” You cannot force people to eat rice with stones, and we have foreigners in this country and you can’t force them to eat rice with stones. Our milling process is still faulty.”

“I have been appealing to the government not to ban rice importation and I have engaged a lot of stakeholders on that. The economy of comparative advantage allows you to concentrate on areas where you have an advantage and in areas where you do not have the competency, you outsource and co-source.

“As far as Nigeria is concerned, we don’t have a comparative advantage in rice farming. It will interest you to know that if you cultivate rice in all the acres of land available in Nigeria, you will get 1.6million metric tons per hectare.

” That is what we can grow. And Nigeria needs a minimum of 3.6 metric tons per hectare for our local consumption.
“So, already, we have a deficit of almost 2 million metric tons per hectare. Again, due to industrialisation, shelter and others, we have occupied the major part of the land that can grow rice.”

“So, the rice land that is available now can only grow on 0.6 metric tons per hectare. So, already, we have lost about 1million metric tons per hectare to industrialisation, shelter and every other thing.

“So, with 0.6 million metric tons per hectare compared to 3.6metric tons per hectare, we have a deficit of about 3 million metric tons per hectare. That is why you will continue seeing the prices of rice going up all the time.

“On record, if I am to import rice from Thailand, my landing cost, including Customs duty, storage, transport, and every other thing is N5000 per bag. That is, if I buy, ship, clear, pay the duty, warehouse, and do every other thing, including adding my profit, the bag is at N5,000 per bag.

“It is expensive because the demand is very high and the production is low. We only have 0.6 million metric tons per hectare, whereas we need 3.6million metric tons per hectare. Rice is one of the major consumable items in Nigeria.”

“The demand is high and the price has to go up. You can imagine if you are producing locally here where we are not shipping, clearing, or doing any other thing and it is this expensive at over N30, 000 per bag. So, the demand is high and the supply is low.”

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