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‘Poisonous’ rice trade hits Nigeria appetite

Abuja, Tuesday

Authorities in Nigeria say they will close their border with an unnamed neighbouring country within the next few days to stop foreign rice being smuggled in.

“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 Asiya into Africa.

The minister, who says he has prior expertise on the topic as “the first Nigerian rice grower to mill rice free of stones”, added: “In South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place for four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase.”

He added: “Arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping for us. Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated. Welcome to poison!”

Though Nigerian authorities have not disclosed which neighbouring country the smuggled rice is coming from, local media say the country in question is Benin. Nigeria is seeking to increase local rice production. —BBC

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