By Deji Elumoye
Benin Republic has sought the assistance of Nigeria in its bid to grow rice in the country.
Already, a delegation from the country had met with top Nigerian government officials on how to go about the mission.
A delegation from Benin Republic met with the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at the presidential villa, Abuja, yesterday evening, to gain from Nigeria’s experience in reviving rice production.
The Beninoise 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.
Addressing newsmen after the closed-door meeting, Bagudu explained that the delegation and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria met with the CoS to progress with the ongoing talks between the two countries on how to replicate Nigeria’s rice farming programme in Benin Republic.
According to him, the move can lead to the discontinuation of rice import to West Africa.
The Kebbi governor said: “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.”
On his part, Chairman of Rice Farmers Association, Aminu Goronyo, emphasised that the Benin government is desirous of learning from the Nigerian experience in rice production.
He stressed that “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.”
On what Nigeria can teach Benin, Goronyo 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.”
The Republic of Benin and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) are currently working towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost rice farming in Benin.
The National body of RIFAN was in Cotonou, the Beninoise capital recently on the invitation of President Patrice Tallon for discussion on how the MoU would be fine-tuned and signed.