The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh has faulted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s report on rice importation.
The USDA had claimed that Nigeria imported about three million tonnes of rice in 2018.
However, Ogbeh described the report as a “mischief” as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not issued any Letter of Credit (LC) for the importation of rice in 2018.
The Minister spoke on Sunday in Otukpo, Benue State, on the sidelines of the distribution of rice and feed milling machines to farmers.
He said: “After that report I went to the CBN and I met with the governor on Monday and asked him how many Letters of Credit (LC) they have opened this year for rice importation and he said `not one’ and you can ask the CBN governor.
“Some of these reports with all due respect are meant to demoralise our people here.
“Smugglers are smuggling rice, we fight them, we seize them.
“Official importation of rice is as low as it ever was except they can tell us which company imported rice, paid the duty at the port, who cleared it.
“If they don’t, let them give us more details of what they found.”
He said: “With all due respect, I don’t like some of the comments of some of our foreign firms. Everything we do is wrong and Nigerians absorb that message.
“If they are talking of smugglers through the ports in Cotonou, that is a different story, even though I am not sure that about three million tonnes was imported.
“How do they sit out there and know what is happening in our ports. It is incredible.”