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Smuggled rice floods Nigerian market, as merchants suffer losses

Rice, Nigeria’s staple food and most commonly eaten delicacy in parties, may not be available on the tables of most Nigerian families during the yuletide. This, according to Mrs Esther Olufumilayo, President, Rice Distributors Association of Nigeria, is because importers have stopped bringing rice into the country since the new tariff was introduced in January 2013. The old tariff of 35 per cent was okay and helped to check the activities of rice smugglers to a reasonable extent, as the duty was almost at par with that of Cotonou port. The government introduced the new tariff regime to encourage local production and help boost investors’ confidence in the rice industry. The policy seems to have backfired and helped to fuel smuggling activities along the Nigeria-Benin border. Although rice import by land is prohibited, almost all the brand varieties in Lagos markets come in through land routes.

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