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Price Of Rice To Fall By November – Agric Minister

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The Nigerian federal government on Monday, October 10, 2016 declared that the price of rice would start to fall from November this year.

Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture and rural development, said this while addressing members of the Senate committee on agriculture and rural development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja.

The minister stated that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters, stressing that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would be detrimental to local production.

“The Federal Government is against rice smuggling and the Seme border has become a notorious route for the smuggling of contraband products into the country,” he noted.

“We will not encourage rice importation and there is no way our ministry or government can be involved in importing rice when we are working hard to be self-sufficient in local production. By November when the full-scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall,” Ogbeh said.

Nigeria spends nearly $1.8billion per year importing (approximately 3.2 million) metric tons of rice to feed its population.This leads to loss of  huge foreign exchange (forex) which would have been used on more impactful social development interventions if they were not needed for food imports.

Recall that the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has said in September 2016 that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the items being imported, before December the price of rice would skyrocket to N40,000 a bag.

On the ministry’s budget and why the capital budget has not been implemented, Ogbeh said, “It is about now that the capital expenditure is beginning. One of the reasons why money is not circulating is that we need to follow the due process on issues of procurement, advertisement and others.”

According to him, his ministry has spent just N882.58m, representing four per cent of the N21bn budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act.

He also stated, “You may be surprised to know that only six to seven states in Nigeria are showing enthusiasm in agriculture. Some by nature don’t seem interested, while others just can’t connect with whatever we are doing at the federal level.”

Ogbeh further stated that his ministry inherited N67bn debt when the present administration came on board, but added that N20bn had been paid to agro-dealers and distributed 900 million oil palm seedlings to farmers across the country.

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