Trailer loads of smuggled rice seized by Nigerian customs along Lagos-Badagry Expressway recently
By Nita Karume :
The Federal Government of Nigeria has said that it will shut down its border with a neighboring country on account of rice smuggling. Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said as much earlier on this week while speaking at a Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI)-sponsored forum.
Mr Ogbeh, however, failed to mention the particular country and border. He further endorsed this move necessary in order to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country. Among the countries Nigeria shares borders with are Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon.
The minister went on to explain the unprecedented risks that come with the consumption of said rice. According to him, rice planted in certain parts of the land could lead to poisoning of the same. Furthermore, some of the countries around the Delta there have been reports of arsenic found in the rice. This is in instances where rice is planted in the same place for six years consecutively.
Mr. Ogbeh also said that the Federal Government had in two years managed to reduce rice importation by 95%. This is while the number of rice farmers increased from five to 30m.
In 2014, the smuggling had taken a turn for the worst with rice traders and importers attributing the same of the tariff increase on imported rice by the Federal Government. As a result, some marketers in Lagos as well as the dealers resulted to smuggling of the product. Unfortunately, the high tariff placed on rice at the Nigerian port to discourage smuggling of the product has not been effective.
The President of Rice Millers and Importers Association noted that smuggling, while destroying the Nigerian economy, is boosting the economy of other developing countries. He is of the opinion that increased tariff will help increase patronage for locally produced rice in Nigeria.