Nigeria re-strategises against rice smuggling

Nigeria has begun a fresh strategy to stop the smuggling of rice, especially through the land borders.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mahmood Abubakar, at a meeting of the Steering Committee on the National Taskforce on Illegal Importation of Rice through the Land Borders, in Abuja, said the ministry would strengthen collaboration with other governmental and security agencies to reduce the illegal importation of rice.

Rice Processors Association of Nigeria had raised the alarm that over one million metric tonnes of foreign rice were smuggled into the country in three months.

Abubakar said, “The ministry is very concerned about the increase in smuggling and has convened this meeting to discuss critical issues in order to strategise and come up with concrete measures to enable the committee carry out its duties effectively.”

He enthused that the ban on rice importation brought about significant rise in local rice production and unlocked economic opportunities for rice investors.

His words, “The resumed smuggling of foreign rice, especially through the land borders, is constituting a serious threat to these achievements. Therefore, if the smuggling is left unchecked, it will jeopardise government’s efforts to enhance the domestic rice industry and make it ineffective.

“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.”

At the event, the Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), remarked, “The meeting has presented an avenue for the committee to deliberate and discuss on curbing insecurity and smuggling of rice into the country.

“NIS cannot fight alone in the operation of the border patrol, but needs other security agencies such as the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps to beef up the joint operations of the Taskforce.”

The Chairman, Presidential Committee on Trade Malpractice, Dahiru Ado, commended the ministry, NIS and other partners in their sustained efforts in tackling the menace of illegal rice importation through the land borders.

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

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