There are strong indications from the federal government that Thailand had commenced moves to establish rice mills in Nigeria.
The Punch reports that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this on Sunday, March 4, during a tour of some rice farms in Kebbi State.
He said the Federation Government had won its fight against rice importation, particularly from Thailand, as Nigeria had reduced its importation of rice by over 90 per cent.
The minister said: “As we speak today, Thailand rice growers are making passionate appeal to the Federal Government. What they are doing now is that they want to set up rice mills in Nigeria, which means we have won.”
Asked again to explain why Thailand rice producers were pushing to set up mills in Nigeria, Mohammed replied:
“Yes, Thailand wants to set up several rice mills in Nigeria because we have stopped importing from them.”
The minister further disclosed that Nigeria was able to cut down on the importation of rice from Thailand from 644,000 metric tonnes two years ago to a little over 20,000MT currently.
The development comes a few days after the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, said that the Southeast Asian country is accusing Nigeria of being responsible for the collapse of its seven rice mills following the drastic fall in rice importation from the country.
“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 per cent, it has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent 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,’’ he had said on Friday.