The Nigeria Association Of Agricultural Produce Dealers (NAAPD) has pleaded with the federal government not to go ahead with its plan to shut down land border with a neighbouring country, as it would not proffer a lasting solution to the perennial problem of foreign rice smuggling that has dogged local rice production in the country. The secretary-general of NAAPD, Hon. Kingsley Chikezie gave the warning in a telephone chat with LEADERSHIP, where he suggested that the panacea for smuggling of foreign rice into the country was for government to implement the federal joint compliance, monitoring and enforcement unit.
Hon. Chikezie said that the joint unit, which consists of security agencies and NAAPD was inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh sometime in May, 2017 with a core mandate of curbing smuggling of rice and other agricultural produce into the country, but has not yet been allowed to commence full operation by the government.
According to the NAAPD boss, if the federal government can have the political will to launch the unit into full operation, the lingering problem of illegal importation of agricultural produce will be reduced to the barest minimum.
He said, “The federal government has decided not to do their own bit to address the problem of rice smuggling in the country. We are not at war with our neighbouring countries and therefore, should not shut down our land borders.
“Sometime in May, 2017, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh inaugurated the Federal joint compliance, monitoring and enforcement unit, which comprises security agencies and NAAPD to address this problem but as I speak to you know now, that unit has not been allowed to begin operation.
“It takes a thief to catch a thief. NAAPD knows all the porous borders and the modus operandi of these smugglers. Let them work and reduce this smuggling to the barest minimum, and not to close land borders. If you close Lagos border, what about Calabar border? What about Kebbi border and other borders?” It will be recalled that last month, the federal government said it would shut down land borders in few days to address smuggling of foreign rice and other toxic materials into the country.
Chief Ogbeh made the disclosure while addressing youths at the Guardians of the Nations International (GOTNI) leadership clinic in Abuja.
“As we speak a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing. They don’t eat parboiled rice they eat white rice. They use their ports to try and damage our economy. I’m telling you now in the next few days you are going to hear that the border has been shut; we are going to shut it to protect you and protect us. You will start seeing all sort of negative things on the internet,” he said.
Ogbeh gave other reason the borders have to be shut, saying “Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials gets into the rice.
“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water. If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us.”
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