The Nigerian Government says it has set up funds to support rice farmers, processors and marketers to ease the cost of production in order to reduce the cost of locally produced rice in the market.
In recent times in Nigeria, there have been a debate on the price of locally produced rice in the market and Nigerians are yet to understand why the locally produced rice is more expensive than the imported.
Speaking to journalist after a closed door meeting the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Audu Ogbeh said that the Federal Government is working closely with Rice farmers, processors and distributors to reduce the price of locally produced rice in the market.
Mr. Ogbeh said modalities are being put in place to ensure the price of locally produced rice falls in the market.
“We applaud that decision but at the level of the Federal Ministry Agriculture Rural and Development and the Bank of Agriculture, we have set up a fund which we intend to manage to support both the farmers, millers and marketers to bring down the price of rice because we are concerned about the cost of rice for the Nigerian family”
“We have been discussing the modalities to be put in place to make sure that local rice sells much cheaper and that the prices can fall to the level of foreign rice and eventually, below the level of foreign rice”
He said the move to reduce the price of rice is born out of the need to afford Nigerians the opportunity to buy cheaply and feed well.
“We want our people to feed well and feed cheaply but these things have to be managed carefully because we are dealing with public funds”
He noted that it is not out of place for the government to subsidize or support agriculture as many countries in the world do it to develop the sector.
FLOOD RESISTANT VARIETIES
The Minister assured rice farmers in flood ravaged areas that modalities will be put in place to get flood resident seeds and also seek ways residing flood waters can be channeled into irrigation.
“We also acknowledge the fact that the floods have done a very terrible damage to rice fields, the water levels are so high, many rice farms have been flooded. We have taken into account the suggestions by farmers that we should look for varieties of rice that are flood tolerant; we will activate our contacts and research institutes to see what we can do quickly”
“we accept the commitments you have made as RIFAN that as soon as the rains go down, you will go into new cropping so that some of the residual water in land and irrigation facilities will give us another harvest of rice in about 90 days to 120 days so we can supply rice to the millers” He noted
Ogbeh further reiterated government’s commitment to end rice smuggling soonest.
“We are aware that they are still very busy and we want to assure you that not too long ago, the President met with the President of Benin Republic and there were certain discussions”
“If in spite of those discussions there are no heed to the matter, I assure you that government is not asleep; Decisions will be made very soon to put a final solution to it”
Ogbeh added that there are plans to organize rice fair in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Port Harcourt and two other cities to showcase Nigeria’s achievement in the rice sub sector.
ENE OKWANIHE, Abuja