Specifically, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Mahmood Abubakar and Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractice, Dahiru Ado raised the alarm at a meeting of the Steering Committee of the National Taskforce on the Illegal Importation of Rice Through Land Borders.
The government officials said in line with the diversification policy of the Federal Government, it is poised to continue strategising and collaborating with security agencies, to stem the illegal importation of rice through land borders.
In a statement by the Ministry of Agriculture signed by its Senior Information Officer, Mabel Mbosire, Abubakar said a level of improvement has been recorded in local rice production- a situation that can be affected by the illegal activities of smugglers.
According to him, the resumed smuggling of foreign rice, especially through the land borders, constituted a serious threat to the achievements of the government.
“Therefore, if the smuggling is left unchecked it will jeopardise all government efforts to enhance the domestic rice industry and make them ineffective.
“The Federal Government and the private sector have invested a lot of resources in rice production and processing over the years, because of the government’s commitment to the development of the sub-sector through its various interventions.
“The ministry has been supporting farmers, especially smallholders and rice processors, with quality seeds of improved varieties, production and processing machinery, and equipment,” the statement quoted the minister as saying.
The statement read further, “Also, the provision of modern rice mills of various capacities, parboilers, dryers, colour sorters, to boost rice production and improve the quality and competitiveness of domestic rice.
“The Nigerian rice industry has recorded significant progress in terms of investments due to an increase in the quality and quantity of the milled rice and it has, in turn, increased the competitiveness, consumer preference, and patronage of our milled rice.
“There is no better time than now to maintain the rice production momentum, to achieve self-sufficiency for food and nutrition security, job creation, wealth generation, and import substitution.
On his part, the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col.
Hameed Ali (retd) noted that the institution alone cannot work on beefing up border patrol operations.
He, therefore, enjoined other security agencies such as the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps to join the service to beef up the joint operations of the task force.
The FG, through its agencies, has also vowed to track companies and vessels who smuggle rice through Benin Republic, adding that it would mete out sanctions to them.
Nigeria Decries Increase in Rice Smuggling through Land Borders