Rice Farmers Kick Against Lifting of Ban on Rice Importation

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on Thursday kicked against the removal of rice from import restriction list by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

Segun Atho, the South-West Zonal Coordinator of the association, told the News Agency that RIFAN members were capable of producing quality rice.

He said that farmers had not disappointed the Federal Government and so the decision was a misplaced directive because other countries are protecting their economies against importation.

“The decision by the NCS to lift the ban on imported rice is not the best for indigenous farmers, we do not want it and we are totally against it. Lifting the ban would be going out of track. What they (NCS) earlier told us was that they were going to protect our land borders from rice smugglers.

“We do not want it for now, the home growers are just in their teething period. When we disappoint government then they can say we are having shortfall. We can produce rice that can meet international standard.

“Vietnam and other countries are protecting their countries from importation of rice, so we should protect our own too,’’ he said.

The coordinator said that for years, farmers had not benefited from the ten per cent meant for farmers from the importation of rice.

He said that the duties collected were meant for indigenous growers to boost development and production processes.

“In the past years, all the duties collected from rice importation had not impacted on the local farmers. The agreement was that ten per cent collected should be given to farmers for development and production but we are not seeing that.

“Nobody should be given licence to import rice so that we can create jobs," Mr. Atho said.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), has ordered the immediate removal of rice from import restriction list. He also re-introduced import duty payment at land borders.