The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has hinted of plans to reduce the price of 50kg bag of local rice from N18,000 to N13,000.
In this respect, he said talks were ongoing with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria to crash the N150,000 per ton price tag of paddy rice to N120,000 to enable millers sell the commodity at N13,000 per bag.
Ogbeh, who was speaking at the weekend in Abuja on the upcoming national conference on the transformation of the country’s livestock industry, lamented that local rice were becoming costlier thatn imported ones.
He regretted that a ton of paddy rice that sold for N65,000 in July 2015 had suddenly jumped making it extremely difficult for millers to sell a 50kg bag of rice less than N17,O00.
The minister said: ” To Nigerians, I’m sorry that the prices of food are too high. We are not too happy about it, but we are not going to turn around and bully the farmers. We will persuade them, but with the increase in food production, prices will go down. Then non-farmers can eat very well. We don’t want any Nigerian to go hungry because he or she is an end user of farm product.
He clarified that government had not banned the importation of any food commodity, saying: “You can still bring in rice as long as it comes in through the ports and you pay levy. It is smuggling we do not want.”
The clarification comes in the wake of protests by local farmers over the importation of a large vessel of maize into the country by a certain big company.
He, however, promised to persuade the firm from the act beginning from next year.