FG’s New Measures To Curb Rice Importation Through Land Borders
The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has put measures in place through collaboration with security agencies to curb the importation of foreign rice into the country through land borders.
This formed part of the resolutions of the meeting of the Steering Committee of the National Taskforce on Illegal Importation of Rice through Land Borders held at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja at the weekend.
Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, 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.
Abubakar said his ministry is very worried about the increase in smuggling and has convened the 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 noted 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.
He said: “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 all government efforts to enhance the domestic rice industry”.
He pointed out that the Federal Government and private sector have invested a lot of resources in rice production and processing over the years because of the government commitment to the development of the sub-sector through its various interventions.
According to him, “The ministry has been supporting farmers especially smallholders and rice processors with quality seeds of improved varieties, production and processing machinery and equipment, including the provision of modern rice mills of various capacities, per boiler, dryers, colour sorters in order to boost rice production and improve the quality and market competitiveness of domestic rice.
“Nigerian rice industry had recorded significant progress in terms of investment 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 in order to achieve self-sufficiency for food and nutrition security, job creation, wealth generation and import substitution.”
In his remarks, 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 Nigeria 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.