The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has expressed regrets that the activities of rice smugglers has led to a loss of $5bn annually for the country.
He said the government would, however, intensify efforts to curtail their activities.
He disclosed this during a press briefing by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ogbeh identified the delay by rice millers to set up mills as one of the reasons smuggling is thriving.
“That was why the President had to say during the 2018 budget presentation at National Assembly that we will come down hard on smugglers because they are doing us a lot of damage.
“In fact, the World Bank says they are costing us $5bn worth of loss per annum. We keep fighting, a little here and a little there. We will get there,” Ogbeh said.
He said the Federal Executive Council has approved the development of foundation seeds for maize at the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
He said the research, which will cost N165m for 30 tons of foundation seeds multiplied by 265 tons of improved seeds which is to be given to seed companies to multiply.
The minister said one of the problems facing maize production in the country is the lack of right quality of seeds and that the nation’s agronomic practices are not very high.
According to him, this is responsible for the yields per hectare being among the lowest in the world.