Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, issued this caution during a media briefing in Lagos on Monday.
Mohammed said the government could not guarantee the healthy status of the rice, having spent months on the high seas and warehouses.
He appealed to Nigerians to complement the efforts of the government by consuming only 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.
“Unhealthy foods are dangerous to our health. So, let’s eat what we can vouch for,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed said smuggled rice was primarily sourced from Thailand and India and came into Nigeria through the country’s borders with Benin, Niger and Cameroon.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The Minister added that 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.
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