FG to track rice-laden vessels from neighbouring countries
The Federal Government has threatened to track rice-laden vessels from neighbouring ports coming into the country.
This formed part of the resolutions of the meeting of the Steering Committee of the National Taskforce on Illegal Importation of Rice through Land Borders held at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development headquarters in Abuja, recently.
essels that bring in rice into the country through Benin Republic and that the companies involved would be apprehended.
He also commended the ministry, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other partners in their sustained efforts in tackling the menace of illegal rice importation through the land borders into the country.
As part of the resolutions at the meeting, the Nigeria Customs Service was asked to continue its border patrol operations as well as procure additional equipment to strengthen its operations.
The NCS was also urged to deploy the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel to complement the larger border patrol coordinated by it.
Other resolutions were that stiffer penalties should be meted out to rice smugglers and that Nigerians should be encouraged to eat and patronise local rice to discourage the smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, convened the meeting to discuss critical issues in order to strategise and develop concrete measures to enable a newly set up committee to carry out its duties effectively.
Speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, 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.
He noted that the improvement in the rice sub-sector should be sustained for the country’s economic growth as signified by the huge contribution of the sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP), which is in line with the Federal Government’s diversification policy.
According to him, the resumed smuggling of foreign rice, especially through the land borders, constitutes a serious threat to these achievements, noting that if smuggling is left unchecked, it will jeopardise all government efforts to enhance the domestic rice industry.
In his remarks, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, said the meeting has presented an avenue for the committee to deliberate and discuss on curbing insecurity and smuggling of rice into the country.
He said the Nigeria Customs Service cannot fight alone in the operation of the border patrol, but needs other security agencies to beef up the joint operations of the taskforce.