The Nigerian Government says it will shut the land border between it and a neigbouring country in a few days’ time to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday while speaking with youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International (GOTNI).
Ogbeh who did not mention the country and border, said that shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country. It is however believed that the country is Benin Republic because the bulk of imported rice in Nigerian markets are allegedly smuggled in from that country.
The minister said that a neighbouring country was bent on destroying the economy of the country and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbor 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.
“We just have to handwork you to prosperity otherwise, this country will not grow. My wish for you is to have a better time that we had,’’ Ogbeh said.
The President of GOTNI, Dr Linus Okorie, commended the minister for sharing prosperity experiences with the youth.
Okorie noted that the leadership clinic was organised by GOTNI to expose young people to practical leadership principle for life success.