Thailand ambassador to Nigeria, Wattana Kunwongse, has put a lie to a claim by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh that rice mills were shutting down in the Asian country as a result of the decline in rice importation by Nigeria.
Audu Ogbeh had last week disclosed that the Thailand ambassador came to his office to complain that Nigeria had dealt with them over drastic reduction in rice importation from Thailand.
Ogbeh was quoted as saying: “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 per cent on rice alone.”
Kunwongse told Premium Times in an interview that this is far from the truth as there is no proof of the shutdown of Thailand’s major rice mills.
The ambassador explained that what transpired at the meeting is that he praised the Buhari administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and assured the minister of Thailand’s support in the field of agriculture.
“The report is not only misleading but a distortion of the actual conversation between myself and the honourable minister of agriculture at the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development on 30th January 2018, which was nothing short of positivity and optimism on both sides,” the statement read.
“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 machineries.
“At the same meeting, the honourable minister and I had reached the conclusion that I as ambassador of 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.
“Thailand’s rice export to the world in 20 (January-December 2017) reached 11.48 million tons equalising to $5.1 billion (USD), a 15.54 per cent 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.”