By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
From fake medicines, expired goods and Ebola, Africa is again targeted with plastic rice with tonnes intended for the Nigerian market recently confiscated by officials.
According to BBC news, Nigeria confiscated 2.5 tonnes of “plastic rice” smuggled into the country by unscrupulous businessmen.
“Lagos customs chief Haruna Mamudu said the fake rice was intended to be sold in markets during the festive season. He said the rice was very sticky after it was boiled and “only God knows what would have happened” if people ate it.
It is not clear where the seized sacks came from but rice made from plastic pellets was found in China last year. Rice is the most popular staple food in Nigeria.”
Lack of sustained investment in agricultural activities, high level of corruption, poor management of indigenous farmers and lack of business security is denying Africa its biggest income resource.
Today most African nations rely on imported foodstuff.
The disclosure of the confiscation of ‘plastic rice’ by one of Africa’s biggest economies is an indication that African countries with poor resources are vulnerable.
Outside of Asia, rice is as big a part of diets in west and central Africa as in any region of the world. Though cultivated for over 2,000 years in the Niger River flood plains, local rice production decades ago ceased to keep pace with the rapidly increasing consumption of burgeoning urban populations. Consequently, the 20 or so mostly coastal countries extending from arid and sparsely populated Mauritania to lushly forested Congo and anchored by regional giant Nigeria now account for more than a quarter of global rice trade.
Roughly 12 million tonnes gets imported, complementing local output approaching the same amount. [Rice is king in west and central Africa January 25, 2016 – by World Grain Staff]
For most African countries the procurement of foodstuff is largely carried out by private businesses with little government intervention and faced with a high level of corrupt officials the playing ground is open for these businesses to do what they want.
And while the few officials give the blind eye millions of innocent people are made to eat plastic.