The government tasks its citizens to consume only locally-grown and processed rice
The government said that smuggled rice costs between N11, 000 and N13, 000 per 50kg bag, while Nigerian processed rice sells for between N14, 500 and N15, 000 per 50kg bag.
This is just as the government said it is ready to embark on a massive nationwide campaign to sensitise compatriots to the need to support the rice revolution by consuming local rice and shun smuggled imported into the country.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the country's Information Minister stated this at a media briefing in Lagos during the Easter break.
Explaining why the price of local rice was higher, he said Cameroon and Benin Republic had lowered tariff payable on rice to 0 and 5% respectively to encourage importation and subsequent smuggling into Nigeria.
He added that Thailand and India where the smuggled rice were sourced also gave a high level of subsidies to rice farmers and rice processors.
The minister disclosed that the local rice producers had made some representations to the government on how Nigerian rice could compete favourably, in terms of pricing, with the heavily subsidised imported rice.
Alhaji Mohammed also said the government could not guarantee the status of the rice having spent months on the high seas and warehouses.
He appealed to Nigerians to complement the efforts of the government by consuming only locally-grown and processed rice which he said “is fresher, tastier and healthier’’.
“We don’t know where or how imported rice is made or how old it is? It is reported that most of the rice dumped on us are old and probably rejected.
“The citizens of those countries do not eat this rice. The citizens of Benin also do not eat it. But they send it to us.
“Unhealthy foods are dangerous to health. So let’s eat what we can vouch for,’’ he said.
The minister noted that rice smuggling was the biggest challenge facing rice production in Nigeria.
On January 1, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari had in his address to the nation revealed that Nigeria would end the importation of rice from 2018.
“Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious rice will be on our dishes from now on, “ the president had said.
Rice smugglers in various border towns and communities across the country have become a nightmare for the Nigerian government who is targeting self-sufficiency in rice production by 2020 and consumption of locally made goods.