Rice farmers in Nigeria appear to be raking in huge sales amid the coronavirus pandemic following the government’s closure of all borders.
Expectedly, the price of the commodity increased globally due to higher demands for Thai rice and those of other major nations renowned for sale of the staple food.
However, it appears that export disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis in Asia have benefitted African producers.
Recall that before now the Asian continent produced about 90 per cent of the world’s rice supply and consumed the same amount.
Aside Thailand, affected countries include China, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Currently, the countries are stockpiling agricultural commodities, a situation that has become advantageous to Nigerian rice farmers, experts say.
In a chat with the Economic Confidential on Tuesday, the National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata, said rice farmers and millers and other processors have been vindicated.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari administration for the partial border closure in 2019 that boosted local food production and massive investment in the agricultural sector.
The RIFAN Chairman said that their advice to the federal authorities not to reopen the borders has yielded the desired results as the amount of foreign rice smuggled into Nigeria has reduced significantly.
Maifata said: “We are 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. The Vietnamese government has also put in export curbs.
“The federal government under the leadership of President Buhari must be commended for taking decisive measures to revive the agricultural sector through border closure and other incentives.
“I can confidently tell you that the level of smuggling foreign rice will soon come down to zero level. I can also assure Nigerians that local farmers can fill the gap conveniently.
“Apart from the fact that the development has helped our local processing industry to work at full capacity and farmers being able to sell all that they produce, many more citizens are now encouraged to invest in farming”, Maifata added.
Spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Joseph Attah, said with the border closure, rice seizures have continued unabated even as the onslaught against smugglers persists.
“We are glad that our rice farmers, processors and millers are doing very well in mass food production. They are daily smiling to the banks and our operations have been successful so far”, Attah added.
He urged all stakeholders to join in the campaign against the activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitization to ensure attitudinal change on the part of the outlaws.