The Federal Government yesterday threatened to shut some land borders, following continuous smuggling of rice from neigbouring countries.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh gave the warning in Abuja while speaking on some of the Federal Government’s achievements in the agriculture sector in the last two years.
Ogbeh said the decision had become necessary to encourage local rice farmers and to enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in rice 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.
The minister said the importation of rice reduced from 580,000 tonnes in 2015 to 58,000 tonnes by 2016.
According to him, by the end of this year, we will eliminate the difference because more people are growing rice in the country.
He said the Federal Government would distribute no fewer than 200 rice mills to millers to encourage fresh milling of locally produced rice to make them more palatable than the imported ones.
Ogbeh said the move would save about $5 million for the country daily when achieved.