The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed that Nigeria’s reduction on rice importation has crippled Thailand’s rice industry stating that at least 7 of the country’s rice mill has closed down.
The minister made this known at a meeting of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the executives of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, on Friday.
The meeting was presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Ogbeh, Thailand Ambassador to the country told him in February when he visited that Nigeria was responsible for the collapse of its seven rice mills following the drastic reduction of rice importation from the country.
He said, “Just like two weeks ago, the Ambassador of Thailand came to my office and said to me that we have really ‘dealt’ with them.
Ogbeh stated further that the ambassador lamented that the collapse of their country’s rice mills has increased the unemployment rate from 1.2 percent to 4 percent.
“But I asked what did we do wrong and he said unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 percent, it has gone up to four percent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 percent on rice alone.”
“So, Mr. President we thank you for the support and we thank all the agencies and those of you in the private sector for your resilience.’’
The minister, however, raised an alarm on the increased smuggling of fake fertilizer and rice along with the western borders of the country.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to put in place drastic measures to check the trend as all previous diplomatic measures had failed to address the issue.
He said, “But one last request Mr. President, we have to take one strong measure against our neighbor to the West. The smuggling is really compromising our capacity on our result.
“Too much rice, too much fake fertilizer is still coming across the borders into this country in spite of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we have with them they are not listening.”
“Maybe if the Federal Government take one tough action, they will come and renegotiate the terms because good neighborliness means reciprocity.”
“We can’t be allowing them to survive at our own expense and I believe that we will do something about it,’’ he said.