By Egena Sunday Ode
The Government of Benin Republic on Tuesday approached President Muhammadu Buhari to learn Nigeria’s secret in rice production.
A delegation of officials from the West African country met with the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
They said they were in Nigerian to tap from its experience in reviving rice production.
The Benenoise delegation, which was led by the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Gaston Cossi Dossouhoui, was led to the villa by Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.
Speaking to correspondents after the meeting, Bagudu explained that the delegation and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria met with the (CoS) to advance ongoing talks between the two countries on how to replicate Nigeria’s rice farming programme in Benin Republic.
He said the idea is that the move can leas to the discontinuation of rice import to West Africa.
The governor stated: “Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria met with the chief of staff to the president to progress the discussion which has been going on between them and Benin Republic for the two countries to replicate the success of Nigeria’s rice farming programme in Benin, so that we can stop rice importation in west Africa in shortest possible time.
“This is partnership within the framework of ECOWAS agreement and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and our brotherly relationship between president Muhammadu Buhari and President Patrice Tallon who have the safe vision that we can be greater together.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association, Aminu Goronyo, explained that the Benin government is desirous of learning from the Nigerian experience in rice production.
He added: “They are here because they have seen the successes recorded in the area of rice production in Nigeria and their President was so happy, he was excited.
“And he said they must come to Nigeria, partner with Nigerian rice farmers and see how Nigerian farmers can replicate the same thing in Benin Republic so that they will be able to achieve the successes this government recorded in the area of rice production.”
Asked what Nigeria can teach them, he said: “Of course, they are our sister country, we are one and the same people and I think their president is ready to accept what we have used to achieve these successes which is the government’s will because our successes is related with the political will that this government has.
“And that is exactly what they want to learn so that they will use the same approach to attain the successes they are seeing to come to us to learn more.”