RICE farmers and paddy rice dealers in Kebbi have appealed to the government at all levels to tackle the menace of rice smuggling, saying it is negatively affecting their businesses. Some of the traders in Zuru paddy rice market told newsmen on Friday in Zuru that rice smuggling would hamper the country’s efforts to attain selfsufficiency in rice production. Malam Hashimu Salisu, a paddy rice seller in Zuru from Kano State, who commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to boost agricultural production, said that rice smuggling was discouraging both rice farmers and traders. “Before now, we were selling a 80kg bag of paddy for between N6,000 and N7,000 but now, it goes for between N9,500 and
N12, 000. “We thank God and the government for the way the market is because we sell our produce, pay our debt and also make some gains. “The previous administration helped us to create the avenue but the current administration has further supported agriculture; we are making more progress and the market has opened up the more. “The Federal Government has encouraged us to go into rice farming but rice is still being smuggled into the country through the borders, and this is having negative effect on our sales. “We want the government to look into the issue of rice smuggling so that we can sell our produce and help our country
to achieve self sufficiency in rice production,’’ Salisu said. Malam Mahmud Abdullahi, another paddy rice trader at Zuru Market, said that the business had been profitable as a result of some interventions by the Federal Government and the Kebbi State Government. Abdullahi, who noted that he sold between five and 10 trailers containing about 400 bags of paddy rice every day, said that paddy rice traders could sell more if the menace of rice smuggling was addressed. “The business has been profitable but the market goes up and down sometimes because of the issue of smuggling. “The Federal Government should address the issue so that we can sell more,’’ he said. Alhaji Idris Abubakar, a rice farmer, commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), saying that it had impacted positively on his business due to the loan given to him. He, however, called on the government at all levels to curtail the persistent smuggling of lowquality rice from neighbouring countries into the country so as to encourage rice farmers to improve their productivity. “The people smuggling rice into the country should no longer be allowed to carry out their illegal business, so that we can be producing and selling our produce. “Rice farming is a good business but when you don’t have buyers, you consequently become discouraged and disillusioned,’’ he added.