President Muhammadu Buhari during his New Year message said rice imports will stop this year.
Rice importation had not been totally banned before now. It is allowed to come into the country through the seaports only, where duties are duly paid.
In his New Year address, the president said his administration will ban the importation of rice in the country this year.
“two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy.
Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, freshers and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.”
Farmers and processors received the news with cheers.
They however expressed worries over smuggling activities, which they said is sometimes aided by customs officials across the nation’s porous land borders, arguing that smuggling was eroding the huge gains so far made in the rice industry.
In a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture over the high cost of local rice recently in Abuja, national leaders of Rice Processor of Nigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata expressed grave concern over what he termed “continuing rice smuggling activities at the country’s border”.
He particularly lamented that some staffers of the Nigerian Customs Service are complacent in the activities as they collect bribes to allow rice into the country’s through the land borders.
A similar position was expressed by the national leader of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, who noted that if the trends continue without firm action from the government, it will weigh down the gains so far made, adding that “it is killing us”.