Enterprise Television- Nigeria Seeks Farmers’ Support to Reduce Local Rice Price
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Thursday during a meeting with rice farmers, millers and processors, said that the Nigerian government called for the support of farmers to make the price of local rice more affordable for Nigerians.
Ogbeh told stakeholders at the meeting that the need to crash the price of rice became imperative following the persistent increase in the price of the producer, especially during the Christmas period.
He said the government understood many of the challenges being experienced by rice farmers, adding that adequate measures were currently being put in place to address many of these concerns.
He stated, “We have been discussing the modalities to put in place 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.
“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 (Central Bank of Nigeria) has agreed to bring down interest rates on agric and manufacturing loans to one digit.
“We applaud that decision but at the level of FMARD (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) and BoA (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 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 stated that in the next two weeks, the government would be organising rice fair in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt and two other cities to showcase the achievements of Nigeria in rice production.
He added, “There are those who do not believe that Nigerian rice exists, but we know it does and we are very proud of the millers for their tenacity, investments and the pains they have gone through in the last few years in trying to respond to a national call.
“We cannot say enough about RIFAN (Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria), we are very proud of you because there are those who didn’t believe it could happen; so, we thank all of you.
“A nation does not thrive on an import bill of food of $22 billion a year. We just can’t manage it and I want this message to reach those who keep thinking that importation is the answer; we don’t have the money.
“In two weeks’ time when we meet with 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.”
While acknowledging the fact that floods had damaged rice fields, he said the government had taken into account the suggestions made by farmers that it should look for varieties of rice that were flood tolerant.
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