Rice Smuggling: Government Shuts Land Border

The Federal Government has decided to shut down the borders with a neighbouiring country through which rice is smuggled on a large scale into Nigeria.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh, who stated this, added that the action will be taken in a few days’ time.

Ogbeh spoke in Abuja at a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).

Although he did not mention the country, the minister said shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the nation’s economy.

He said the neighbouring country was bent on destroying Nigeria’s economy by discouraging local production of rice.

“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing.

“They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.

“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy.

“You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet.

“Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.

“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water.

“If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.

“Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison,’’ Ogbeh said.

He said that the Federal Government in two years reduced rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers from five million to 30 million.

The minister said that states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa were doing well in rice production.