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'Rice smuggling will increase' if Nigeria close its border

If Nigeria shuts its border, rice smuggling will increase, local dealers have told the BBC.

Their warning comes after agriculture minister Audu Ogbeh threatened to close the border with an unnamed neighbouring state which he accused of illegally importing the staple to Nigeria.

Rice dealers say local produce is more expensive, less popular and less clean than the imported rice, with Oluwanishola Obisesan telling the BBC she feels the whole move will just help a few people make more money.

“I bought rice from Nassarawa. It was sandy, dirty and filled with shaft. People didn’t buy it,” she said.

"This move by government will give the smugglers more money because in Nigeria, people know how to cut corners and find a way around things."

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has made efforts to help rice farmers and local production has increased.

Even so, Obisesan says she doesn’t feel the local rice production will meet the demand in the market.

However, Joseph Attah, Nigeria Customs Service press officer, said "the behaviour of the authorities from neighbouring countries is affecting our national food security and it’s a serious threat to our country".

"And it can lead to a decision to close our border. What I mean is the smuggling of rice and cars inside the country," he said.


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