The price of rice is already high but an order that the Nigerian government says it may adopt if the smuggling of rice continues in borders of neighbouring countries may further push the price up.

On Monday, the Nigerian government threatened to shut some land borders if the smuggling of rice continues.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, gave the warning while addressing reporters on some of the Federal Government’s achievements in the agriculture sector in the last two years in Abuja.

Ogbeh said the decision had become necessary to encourage local rice farmers and to enable the country achieve self-sufficiency by 2018.

“We believe they are determined to sabotage the efforts that we are making to guarantee self- sufficiency in rice and to save foreign exchange which we don’t have.

“They insist on bringing in rice through the land borders, avoiding the duties and the levies we put on them and they are definitely bent on sabotaging our efforts and we are getting increasingly unhappy with them.

“And I must say that very soon, if they persist, we will take very nasty measures against them.

“We will like to advise our neighbours, who believe that the ECOWAS treaty means that Nigeria is a volunteer nation for economic suicide.

“We have no such plans, destroying our own economy to make any neighbour happy.

“The ECOWAS treaty number two does not suggest that any country can be an avenue of smuggling foreign goods not produced in that country for dumping in his neighbours territory.

“If they insist, I do not think that government is far away from considering permanently closing certain borders very near us and when we do, nothing will make us change our minds on the issue, ECOWAS treaty or not,” Ogbeh warned.

According to the Minister, who did not name any border, the importation of rice reduced from 580,000 tonnes in 2015 to 58,000 tonnes by 2016.

rice.

He insists by the end of 2017, Nigeria will eliminate the difference because more people are growing rice in the oil-rich nation.

As part of efforts to boost local production, the government would distribute no fewer than 200 rice mills to millers across the states to encourage fresh milling of locally produced rice in order to make them more palatable than the imported ones.

Ogbeh said the move would save about $5 million for the country daily.

What Will Work

According to the Minister, about three months ago, there was this cry about Nigeria going to starve and we told them that there will be no such thing.

“We have never produced as much grains as we did in the last two years in this country’s’ history.

“We have fed not only Nigeria, we have fed West Africa and there are still thousands of tonnes in people’s warehouses,” the Minister claimed.

There have been claims of increase in production of rice in Nigeria mostly by the government, but Nigerian rice is not readily available in the market at a competitive price.

More rice farms are getting ravaged by cattle, led into farms by arms-carrying herdsmen.

More farmers are abandoning their farms to these marauding herders and security measure as still being adopted to check their activities.

But with farmers crying over the destruction of their farmlands by herds of cattle, Bounce News believes it is important to put an end to the clashes between these herdsmen and farmers.

Closing the borders may not be as efficient as ensuring that persons that are supposed to man the borders do their work without fear or favour and without collecting money reward to allow people move rice to Nigeria through the border.

Putting border checks in place and adequate monitoring of those whose duty it is to check the border will do more good than throwing Nigeria into paying more for rice due to cost of importation that is usually added to the cost of rice retailed to consumers.