Minister raises concern as 571,000mt of rice arrives in Benin Republic


The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh has expressed concerns over news that 571,000 tonnes of parboiled rice shipped from Thailand had arrived at Benin Republic waiting to be transported to Nigeria for the Christmas celebration.

The minister during an interview with journalists in Abuja pointed out that the citizens of the Republic of Benin do not eat parboiled rice but eat only white rice.The minister lamented that the ECOWAS treaty that allows free trade within the region was being violated by traders as they imports goods, station them at the borders and smuggle them into Nigeria.

He said: “The ECOWAS treaty was for products manufactured within the region, but some of our neighbours are not moving goods produced in their country, they import goods, station themselves at our borders and smuggle these items into our economy.”

Commending the Senator Hope Uzodima Committee on Customs for raising awareness on the need to restructure the treaty, he said Nigeria is at the loosing end. According to him: “Rice is not grown in the Republic of Benin, why should it come in to the country as goods produced in that country? Because the Nigerian market is so big they want to exploit it. I sympathise with the committee and fully endorse the plan.”

He added: “No economy should out of sympathy damage our own and we should not allow anybody out of sentiment do to us things that we can’t do. When Dangote was trying to ship his cement through the Republic of Benin to Togo it took one year to persuade them. They said he could not because they have a cement factory in Onibolo.”

The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) at a press conference last month disclosed that one million metric tonnes of parboiled rice has arrived Republic of Benin.

They accused the country’s government of providing smugglers with warehousing facilities, transport logistics to smuggle rice into Nigeria because of import duties accruing to them.


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