The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has accused a neighbouring African country of trying to damage Nigerias economy by smuggling rice into the country.
While speaking in Abuja on Monday, June 18, 2018, the minister alleged that an unnamed neighbouring country, which Nigeria shares borders with, is importing more rice than China so it can smuggle it into Nigeria and destroy the federal government's initiative to grow rice locally.
According to him, the government will soon close the border it shares with said neighbour to foil its plot and encourage local rice production that will sustain Nigeria's economy.
He said, "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."
The minister further revealed that, with its ban on importation of foreign rice, the Buhari-led administration has reduced rice importation by 95% in just two years. He added that the number of rice farmers has increased from five million to 30 million in the same time.