Your Minister’s Claim Is Misleading And A Distortion Of The Actual Discussion That Transpired – Thailand Ambassador
Thailand’s ambassador to Nigeria, Wattana Kunwongse, has refuted the claims of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, that Nigeria was responsible for the collapse of its seven rice mills following the fall in rice importation from his country. The ambassador made this known in a letter sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.
NIGERIA NEWS had earlier on reported Ogbeh’s claim, at a meeting of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the leadership of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN) where he stated that “just like two weeks ago, the Ambassador of Thailand came to my office and said to me that we have really ‘dealt’ with them.”
“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”.
However, Kunwongse had faulted the claim describing it as “misleading and a distortion of the actual discussion that transpired between them”.
He stated in the letter that, “The report is not only misleading but a distortion of the actual conversation between myself and the honorable Minister of Agriculture at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on 30th January 2019, which was nothing short of positivity and optimism on both sides.”
“During which I praised President Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the essence of which is the endeavour to move the country to a self-sufficiency and export-oriented economy, and to that worthy cause, Thailand stands ready to work closely with the Nigerian Government in the field of technological transfer and agricultural machinery.”
“At the same meeting, the honourable minister and I had reached the conclusion that I as Ambassador 0f Thailand to Nigeria will be working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development to establish a platform to discuss our mutual benefits in the form of MOU on Agricultural Cooperation and by forming a bilateral Working Committee toward that end.”
He also disclosed in the letter that the report is far from the truth as Thailand’s official figures showed that in 2017, its rice export to the world reached 11.48 million tons worth $5.1 billion.
“Thailand’s rice export to the world in 2017 (January-December 2017) reached 11.48 million tons equalizing to $5.1 billion (USD), a 15.54 percent increase compared to previous years, which is one of the highest figures on the history Thailand’s rice exportation. There is no proof of any shutdown of Thailand’s major rice mills,” he said.
The Ambassador, however, stated that despite the “misquotation”, he remains positive and also looks forward to a partnership with the Nigerian Government on all fronts in the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
He noted that based on the warm reception from Mr. Ogbeh when he visited the ministry, he believes the minister is “a great man of integrity who has been working so hard to help Nigeria achieve the goal of self-sustainability in food and agriculture.”
According to PREMIUM TIMES, when it contacted the special adviser to the minister on media and publicity, Olukayode Adeleye, on the issue, he asked “to crosscheck facts” before responding. He was yet to respond as at the time of this report.