The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has assured Nigerians that the price of rice will start to drop from November, this year.
The minister disclosed this while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja. He said the harvest season for rice is near and as usual, farmers are expected back to their various farms to harvest their produce, which will see the price drop considerably by November.
He added that the ban on rice was never lifted, as lifting it would be detrimental to local farmers.
“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,” the minister said.
More so, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture, who had earlier warned last month that the price of rice may rise from its current N20,000 per bag to about N40,000 by December, if Nigeria does not go into production and keeps relying on importation, said that the $22bn annual food import bill had led to the astronomical rise in the price of rice and other commodities.
Ogbeh replied when asked why the ministry is yet to implement it’s capital project: “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 other.”
He added that some States are not interested in Agriculture, while some just show little interest but with lacklustre attitude.
“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”, the minster added.