Nigeria is to shut down its land border with an unnamed neighbouring country in a few days time to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
“Poisonous materials” and “arsenic” are among the substances Nigeria’s agricultural minister, Audu Ogbeh, claims are present in rice imported from China and South East Asia into Africa.
Many Nigerians prefer Thai rice because it is a status symbol.
When rice is planted in the same location for four to six years continuously, the quantum of carcinogenic arsenic begins to increase.
The Nigerian Agric minister further stated that the move was necessary in order to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.
Though Nigerian authorities have not yet disclosed which neighbouring country the smuggled rice is coming from, the country shares borders with Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon.
The agriculture minister claimed in 2017 that Nigeria would become self-sufficient in rice production by the end of the year.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, as many as 21 of the 39 rice-producing countries in Africa import between 50% and 99% of the rice they consume.