The Federal Government of Nigeria has disclosed that the country was losing $5 billion to smuggling yearly.
The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said this while addressing State House reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting.
According to Ogbeh, the government had to tackle smuggling as it was compromising the progress made in the production of grains.
“That was why the president had to say yesterday (during the 2018 budget presentation at National Assembly) that we will come down hard on activities of smugglers because they are doing us a lot of damage. In fact, the World Bank says that they are costing us $5 billion worth of loss per annum. We keep fighting, little here, a little there. We’ll get there,” he said.
The minister also stated: “I can give you some figures. Between September 2015 and now, rice importation through the ports dropped from 644,131 tons to 20,000 tons in September this year, which means that by the end of this year to the early part of next year we can literally say we are closed to total self-sufficiency in rice. On the other hand, in Republic of Benin, rice importation has increased to 1.33 million tons because they don’t eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice.
“So every grain of rice landing there is heading for Nigeria through smuggling and some of it also comes in through Niger Republic. These are issues to deal with because we want local rice production to meet our needs and we are creating jobs.
“There are at least 12.2 million farmers in the country now and they are enjoying life the way they haven’t before. So these are the issues we raised today.”