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Matters Arising On The Mathematics Of Rice Smuggling, Border Closure And The Propriety Of It All

The Oasis Reporters

November 9, 2019

Bags of Rice

In a video flick circulating on social media, we saw Col Hameed Ali, the Nigerian Customs Boss saying that before the border closure, there were poor Nigerians. After the border closure , there will still be poor Nigerians.
Its so ironic that we would have government officials with such a mindset. Unlike in serious countries like India and China with deliberate policies to lift people out of poverty.

The recent oil crisis highlighted the need for the country to diversify and restructure its economy. The result was increased attention being accorded the agriculture sector, which had declined significantly since the late 1960s.

Nigeria’s 2017 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan aimed to deepen investments in agriculture and increase the sector’s contribution to economic growth from 5% in 2017 to 8.4% by 2020. The idea is to revive domestic farming and save on food imports (over $22 billion a year).

It is this national plan that precipitated the border closure. The government wants to protect domestic farmers from cheap imported foodstuff.

While Nigerian rice farmers are happy about their government’s actions, there are concerns about whether domestic food production can meet domestic demand. In 2017, demand for rice in Nigeria reached 6.7 million tons, almost double the 3.7 million tons produced domestically.

Since the border closure, the price of a 50 kilogram bag of rice has increased from 9,000 naira ($24) to 22,000 naira ($61).

Hurt is the name of the game for consumers and the sound of rejoicing in the camp of farmers is not a deserved one. They have not produced enough, and their production is most of the time, low grade.

Shobayo Olumuyiwa, a social media commentator says that If you close your border because of smuggling of goods without carefully addressing
the cause why people go into smuggling, even if it takes twenty years before borders are reopened, smuggling will definitely continue.

“Imagine a bag of rice that travelled all the way from Malaysia, Thailand, China, the Netherlands, etc to Nigeria, spending months or years to get to its destination and when it gets to Nigeria the price amounts to twenty seven thousand naira with the border closure and smuggling factored in.

Conversely, Nigerian rice that went through nothing, no shipment, no tariff charges on the road, no cross border payment, nothing and yet it is being sold at twenty three thousand naira, can that not be seen as an economic aberration?

In America it is said that a bag of rice is between 2 to 3 dollars, let’s assume a dollar now is #350, please let’s calculate 3 multiplied by 350.
That is naira 1,050.

American rice left their country at the rate of #1050, therefore this means, Nigeria rice shouldn’t cost above #1500.

If Nigeria rice per bag is #1500, who will buy imported rice of #27,000 and who will go into smuggling?

The citizens may clap over every move of their leaders, but this does not sound like a successful outing.

I used to steal soup, meat and food from my mom’s pot because these foods weren’t enough to be distributed to all of us, for we were seven in number in the 80s.

People steal and smuggle what is not enough. A country that claims in their national anthem and national flag of GREEN WHITE GREEN, with Green symbolizing AGRICULTURE has no reasons for smuggling”.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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