The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has decried the abuse of the Economic Community of West African States protocol, which allows neighboring states to bring in rice into Nigeria.
Lokpobiri said this while receiving the new country manager of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Ms Ndine Gbossa, in Abuja, on Thursday.
According to a statement signed by George Oji, the Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of State, Lokpobiri said,”
“The challenge we have with our neighbors is that because of the extant ECOWAS protocol, people will dump their rice products in the region and re-bag them and bring them into Nigeria. The reason is that under the ECOWAS protocol, any goods produced within the sub-region can have free access to any market within the region.
“Based on that, those from Thailand would go to Benin Republic with their parboiled rice and then re-bag them as though they were produced in Benin Republic and then smuggled them into Nigeria thereby denying the people of Benin the opportunity to grow rice and then benefit from the Nigerian market. Because of that, we have engaged the government of Benin Republic, up to the presidential level.”
He added, “The President had to invite the President of Benin Republic to engage him because we are neighbors; let’s see how we can work together and curb this issue of smuggling.”