The Director General of the Lagos State Chambers of Commerce and Industry LCCI, Muda Yusuf, on Tuesday has reacted to the news of the Federal Government shutting borders in the country due to increase in rice smuggling.
Yusuf advised that the government should be more strategic when handling issues concerning the economy of the nation. He said that rice is just about 2% of what is imported into the country and cited that if the border is shut down because of one, what happens to the other 98% of imported products.
In his words, he said “We have to be more strategic when dealing with economic issues. This is a very simplistic way of dealing with the challenge of smuggling. Smuggling is a symptom of a problem and when you begin to fight a symptom you cannot solve the problem. You need to identify the cause of the problem.
“There is a major issue with productivity in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. If we have a country of this kind of population and this kind of agriculture sector that has very serious productivity challenge, you are likely to have this kind of problem.”
He said although the Federal Government has taken steps to boost Agriculture and rice production, the demand, however, surpass the supply.
Therefore, better solutions need to be proffered by the Federal Government.
“Although, there have been some efforts (by the Federal Government) to support the production of rice but we are still very far from what the demand is. There’s a demand gap of close to 2.5 to 3 million metric tonnes of rice locally,” he said
Muda said rice smuggling cannot be eradicated in Nigeria by simply closing borders. According to him, the solution “is to see what you can do to scale up productivity so that it can narrow the demand-supply gap.”
He then urged the Federal Government to implement problem-solving policies and not merely block borders.
“Sometimes, you solve a problem not just by physically blocking the road and borders but through policies.
“If you are going to close the border entirely for a product that is just about 2% of the nation’s GDP. What happens to 98% of the GDP,” he said.