To curtail the smuggling of foreign rice and other toxic materials into the country, the Federal Government has revealed the intention to shut land borders with neighboring countries giving room to patronage of locally produced materials by citizen.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh disclosed this during an interactive section with Nigeria youths with the theme: ‘The Guardians of the Nations International (GOTNI) Leadership Clinic’ in Abuja on Sunday.
The Minister lamented that the friendly relationship that existed between Nigeria and her neighboring African countries was adversely affecting the nation’s economy, hence the decision to shut the borders.
According to the Minister, the Federal Government in the past two years succeeded in reducing rice importation by 95 percent and increased the number of rice farmers from five to 30 million noting that states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa have taken advantage of the Anchor Borrower programs of the Federal Government to upscale their rice production and that achievements will not be allowed to fizzle away through smuggling activities.
He said: “Our problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbor of ours is importing more rice than China. 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 that borders have 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 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. 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”, he said.