24 January 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – THE Nigerian Government policy on rice cultivation and production may suffer a major setback as the government of Thailand has crashed the price of the commodity following a glut.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government jerked up the tariff on rice to as much as 110% with to discourage the importation of the commodity by Nigerians.
Already, fewer than six ships loaded with the staple food item are either being expected or have arrived at Lagos ports with a combined rice cargo of 148,604 metric tonnes.
Despite the increased tariff to 110 per cent, investigations revealed last week that ships laden with the commodity are gradually sailing into the Lagos seaports.
It was gathered that the glut in rice production in Thailand led to a protest by farmers who could sell their produce.
The Thai government decided to wade in and offered to subsidize rice – and asked farmers to sell at a reduce price.
Thailand, Nigeria’s major rice import market is currently having a massive rice stockpile of over 17 million tones.
According to agency report, government is buying at US$475 a tonne as against $669 per tonne.
One of the ships expected at Nigerian Port is: MV Hector, which is expected to arrive with 29,145 metric tonnes of rice on the 19th and is expected to berth at ENL terminal at the Lagos port complex. Also, Star Capella is expected at the same terminal on the 26th of January 2014 with 30,000 MT.
Others are: Atlantic Trade, which was expected last weekend with 20,800, MC Haci Ali Sari with 11,700 MT, and Wariya Naree with 32,959 MT to berth at Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited. Also expected is, MV. Aqua Runner with 20,800 MT
Unconfirmed reported hinted that rice importers have been mounting pressure on the Federal Government to review the tariff hike.
Despite the war against smuggling by men and officers of the Nigeria Customs, vessels laden with rice find their way to the Beninoise port of Cotonou from where the produce are smuggled into Nigeria.
A shipping agent who did not want his name in print said seizure of rice goes on daily, adding that it many still escape the eagle eyes of men of the Customs service.
“It’s not impossible that the ones you see in the market are smuggled, but how do you determine the source, since there is no outright ban,” he explained.
“Rice still comes in through the land borders, smuggling still thrive but we know that there is hope for us to remain in the business,” he source stated.
According to him, most of the rice sold in Nigerian market are smuggled into the country through the porous borders.