NIGERIA – The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has urged the federal government to enter into a rice trade agreement with India to import two million metric tonnes (2MMT) of husked brown rice for millers to stabilize the prices of the grain in the country.

The call comes as millers scramble for paddy amid a worsening shortage in Africa’s biggest economy that has caused prices to reach their highest level in decades.

According to RIPAN, if the government heeds their request, the husked brown rice will be given to millers for processing to keep their mills operational.

It also called on the government to immediately grant a permit for the importation of brown rice and make the announcement before the new wet season begins. This action is necessary to prevent speculative hoarding and reduce paddy prices to acceptable levels.

According to RIPAN, the country has over 100 rice mills with an installed capacity to process over 6 million MT of paddy. It is expected that this capacity will increase to 7.5 million MT in 2023 as more projects come on board.

The association added that to keep rice mills functional, 2.7 million MT of paddy is required, noting that the current area under paddy cultivation is 1.6 billion hectares.

The rice body said the move is necessary as it would help stabilize the prices of a 50kg bag of local parboiled rice at N400,000 (US$515), ensure the survival of mills, and preserve a million jobs in the industry.

“We request the President to appeal to the Prime Minister of India to sell approximately 2 million MT of husked brown rice to Nigeria and approve the waiver of the 20 percent export duty recently introduced by India,” the association said in a statement.

India, the world’s largest rice exporter, recently implemented a partial ban on exports to control domestic prices and curb inflation.

This has reduced global supply by more than one-fifth and caused prices in the international market to reach a 15-year high, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization.

RIPAN stated that Nigeria’s paddy prices, currently at N400,000 (US$515) are the most expensive globally as millers scramble for available paddies.

The association noted that if the scarcity of paddy is not quickly addressed, smuggling through the porous land borders will rise, renewing pressure on the naira and eroding the country’s previous gains.

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