Alhaji Dahiru Ado-Kurawa, the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractices has made known the Federal Government’s intention for a downward review of the import duty levied on imported rice ahead of the yuletide season. This is in view to check smuggling and reduce the loss of revenue.
With a 10% import duty and 100% levy, a 50-kilogramme bag of rice may sell for N15, 000. This is not so in other West African Countries, hence the frustration of importers and need to cheat the system. Evidence is seen in the loss of N20 Billion Naira revenue accruable to the Government to smugglers who are now taking advantage of the provisions in Nigeria’s free trade zone initiative at neighboring borders.
He further went on to reveal that the Committee is in agreement with stakeholders who have advised the Government to review the rice policy, sift grey areas and ensure that the country is weaned off rice importation. This would create a strong machinery for Nigeria to be self-reliant in rice production, increase job creation, expand the market as well as become a revenue generating venture for the Government as Nigeria is currently the largest importer of rice on the African Continent; importing over 2.5 million tons in 2011-2012.
At the flag off of the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and official rollout of the growth enhancement support programme in Ogun State, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina made public the staggering amount of N1 Billion Naira spent on rice daily and revealed that the Government was putting structures in place to stop rice importation by 2015.
In the light of the above, the Federal Government has the onus of ensuring tighter borders and enabling policies that would boost production by empowering farmers across Nigeria to produce quality rice in terms of processing and packaging to favorably compete with the foreign rice which is the darling of many. Also, the orientation and acceptance of Nigerians would go a long encouraging local rice production in the country.
Rice production therefore has the potentials of creating jobs, improving living standards and generating revenue for Government in all its tiers should the 3 million tons produced will increase to 7 million in nearest future.
By Unen Ameji.