Government Wants Nigerians To Patronize Local Rice
The federal government has warned Nigerians against the health implications of consuming unhealthy rice which might have been smuggled into the country.
Lai Mohammed, the minister of information, gave the caution at a media briefing in Lagos on Monday.
He stated that the health status of such imported rice could not be ascertained, having spent months on the high seas and warehouses.
The minister, therefore appealed to Nigerians to consume locally-grown and processed rice which he said “is fresher, tastier and healthier’’.
“We don’t know where or how imported rice is made or how old it is. It is reported that most of the rice dumped on us are old and probably rejected. The citizens of those countries do not eat this rice. The citizens of Benin Republic also do not eat it. But they send it to us,” he said.
“Unhealthy foods are dangerous to our health. So, let’s eat what we can vouch for.’’
“In Benin Republic, the total demand for white rice (white rice is consumed in Benin, against parboiled rice in Nigeria) is 400,000 MT. Yet, the country with a population of about 11 million imports between one million and 1.2m MT of rice annually.”
“Who are they importing for? Nigerians, of course. In fact, as Nigeria’s rice import falls, Benin’s rice imports increase. Most of the parboiled rice imported by Benin eventually land in Nigeria through smuggling.’’
The minister said smuggled rice costs between N11,000 and N13,000 per 50kg bag, while Nigerian-processed rice sells for between N14,500 and N15,000 per 50kg bag.”
He gave assurances that the government would work on bringing down the price of local rice, adding that the price of local rice was higher, because Cameroon and Benin Republics had lowered tariff payable on rice to five percent to encourage importation and subsequent smuggling into Nigeria.
“Nigerians should remember that every time they eat imported rice, they are eating the jobs that would have been created for Nigerians,” he said.
“It is important for Nigerians to know that when they consume imported rice, they are creating jobs in India and Thailand and destroying jobs across our country.
“Today, we have rice farmers in all states and all geopolitical zones. In fact, most of us have friends and relatives who are farming rice. So if we don’t patronise their products, we are destroying their livelihoods.”