- Plans fair to showcase achievement in production revolution
James Emejo in Abuja
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Thursday hinted on plans to slash the price of local rice in the market to court patronage.
He said talks were currently ongoing with major stakeholders including rice processors and distributors “To put in place modalities to make sure that local rice sells much cheaper and that the prices can fall to the levels of foreign rice and eventually, below the levels of foreign rice.”
He said special funds had been earmarked to subsidise farmers, millers and marketers to bring down the price of the staple to be almost at par with the foreign counterpart.
According to the minister, :”Every country in the world supports agriculture whether they call it subsidy or support, it is exactly the same thing.
“We are happy that the CBN has agreed to bring down interest rates on agriculture and manufacturing to one digit.”
Speaking shortly after a closed door session with the stakeholders, he said :”We applaud that decision but at the level of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and 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. “
He said: “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.”
Ogbeh added that stakeholders will be meeting in about two weeks to further organise a rice fair beginning in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Port-Harcourt including two other cities to showcase the achievements of the Nigerian in rice production.
According to him: “There are those who do not believe that Nigerian rice exists but we know they do and we are very proud of the millers for their tenacity, investments and pains they have gone through in the last few years in trying to respond to a national call.”
He said government is aware of the floods which had ravaged rice fields, and is currently considering suggestions by farmers to look for varieties of rice that are flood tolerant.
“ In two weeks’ time when we meet, between the BOA and the millers, we will put in place a strategy to support rice milling, so we can see what we can do for lower prices at Christmas.
“So, a letter will be sent to you by the director agribusiness and also talk with the CBN but be sure that we want you to succeed, to be rich, to make a success like other countries have done but one day, we want foreign rice to be a very rare commodity in this country,” he said.