The Federal government has raised the alarm over the increase in smuggling of foreign rice through land borders.
The Minister of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, in a statement by the Senior Information Officer, Obe Mbosire Mabel said ,the resumed development is constituting a serious threat to the growth of local rice production.
Abubakar stated that if the smuggling is left unchecked, it will jeopardize all government efforts to enhance the domestic rice industry and make them ineffective.He 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.The Minister noted that the huge improvement in the rice sub-sector needs to be sustained for 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 pointed out that the Federal government and private sectors have invested a lot of resources in rice production and processing over the years.
According to him: “The 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’’.
“The Ministry has been supporting farmers especially small holders 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.”
Abubakar however noted that there is no better time to maintain the rice production momentum to achieve self-sufficiency for food and nutrition security, job creation ,wealth generation and import substitution.
The Comptroller General, Nigeria Custom Service, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), said the NCS alone cannot fight in the operation of the border patrol but needs other security agencies such as the Nigerian Civil Defense Corps to beef up the joint operations of the Taskforce.
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