Written by on November 8, 2021

The Nigerian Government is setting up modalities to curb smuggling and illegal importation of rice into the country through land borders.

To achieve this, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set up a National Taskforce Steering Committee on the Illegal Importation of Rice.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar, in a statement, said the ban on rice importation has brought about a significant rise in local rice production and unlocked economic opportunities for rice investors in the country.

The ministry, therefore, is very worried about the increase in smuggling and has convened a meeting to discuss critical issues in order to strategise and come up with concrete measures to enable the Committee to carry out its duties effectively.

According to the minister, if the smuggling is left unchecked, it will jeopardise all government efforts to enhance domestic rice production.

He noted that the resumed smuggling of foreign rice, especially through the land borders is constituting a serious threat to the achievements of the Buhari’s administration in food production, adding that the huge improvement in the rice sub-sector needs to be sustained for the country’s economic growth as signified by the huge contribution of the agricultural sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) which is in line with the Federal Government’s diversification policy.

Abubakar maintained that the Federal Government and private sector have invested a lot of resources in rice production and processing over the years through its various interventions.

Rice production in the country has recorded significant progress in recent times, increasing the competitiveness, consumer preference, and patronage of Nigerian milled rice.

On his part, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col.Hameed Ali (rtd), said the meeting has presented an avenue for the Committee to deliberate and discuss on curbing insecurity and smuggling of rice into the country’’.

He said Nigerian Customs Service cannot fight alone in the Operation of the border patrol but needs other security agencies such as the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps to beef up the joint operations of the Taskforce’’.

For the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractice, Dahiru Ado it is important to partner and sustains efforts in tackling the menace of illegal rice importation through land borders into the country.

He said the committee will continue to track vessels that bring in the rice into the country through the Benin Republic and pledged that companies involved will be apprehended.

The meeting resolved that the Nigeria Customs will continue in its border patrol operations, Procurement of additional equipment to strengthen its operations, the deployment of Nigerian Civil Defence Personnel to compliment the larger border patrol coordinated by the Nigerian Customs Service.

They agreed that stiffer penalties be meted out to rice smugglers and that Nigerians should be encouraged to eat and patronize local rice in order to discourage the smuggling of foreign rice into the country.

Ngozi Onyejiaku’s Report

Edited By: Anoyoyo Ogiagboviogie

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