Efforts by the present administration to make rice, affordable to Nigerians may be a mirage after-all if activities of rice dealers who have formed a syndicate are not immediately checked by the security agencies.
WSJ authoritatively gathered that a syndicate of rice merchants in Kano, Kano State have crossed the Rubicon to ensure that no farmer brings the product into the Kano market unless he’s prepared to sell on their own terms. Investigations revealed that a farmer from Minna, Niger State stormed the ancient city with trailer loads of locally produced bagged rice but was intercepted by the Kano rice dealers at the entrance of the city.
It was gathered that the local farmer had planned to sell the commodity at N7,500 per bag. The Kano rice dealers however, insisted that he would only be allowed to flood the market with the commodity if and only if he was ready to sell at N13,500. It was gathered that the dealers claimed that selling the commodity at such a low price would jeopardize their chances of selling their own imported rice that have been smuggled into the country from Thailand and China.
A bag of the imported rice, it was gathered , sells for between N20,000 and N22,000 in Kano and other parts of the country. This was due to the ban on the importation of the commodity by the Federal Government. It was however, gathered that most of the syndicate have their warehouses filled to the brim in readiness for the end of year sale with a view to making a lot of money from profiteering at the expense of the innocent consumers.
Meanwhile, the federal government has said that the price of rice would start to fall from November this year. According to the government, more Nigerians have returned to their various farms and by the next harvesting season in November, the price of rice would start to crash
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture, disclosed this while speaking to members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja on Monday, October 10. Ogbeh, who stated that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters, stressed that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would be detrimental to local production. He noted that the federal government was against rice smuggling and noted that the Seme border had become a notorious route for the smuggling of contraband products into the country.
He said: “We will not encourage rice importation and there is no way our ministry or government can be involved in importing rice when we are working hard to be self-sufficient in local production. By November when the full-scale harvest starts, rice price will fall.”