The federal government of Nigeria has said that the price of rice would begin to fall from effective from November 2016.
According to the government, more Nigerians have returned to their various farms and by the next harvesting season in November, the price of rice would begin to crash, The Punch reports. However, the government said that the delay in the approval of the 2016 budget had made it impossible to implement the capital expenditure in the agricultural sector.
The minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh disclosed this while talking to members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja on Monday, October 10. Ogbeh, who expressed that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters, stressed that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would be damaging to local production. He noted that the federal government was against rice importing and noted that the Seme border had become a notorious route for the importing of contraband products into the country.
“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 exhaustively to be self-sustaining in local production. By November when the full-scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall.” On why the ministry had yet to begin implementing its capital budget, Ogbeh said
“It is about now that the capital expenditure is starting. One of the reasons why money is not circulating is that we need to follow the due process on issues of acquisition, advertisement and others.”
According to him, his ministry has spent just N882.58m; representing 4wd of the N21bn budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act. He also said:
“You may be stunned to know that only six to seven states in Nigeria are showing enthusiasm in agriculture. Some naturally don’t appear interested, whereas others just can’t connect with whatever we are doing at the federal level.”
Ogbeh further said that his ministry inherited N67bn debt when this administration came on board but stated that N20bn had been paid to agro-dealers and distributed 900 million oil palm seedlings to farmers across the country.
Lokpobiri, the minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the $22bn annual food import bill had led to the increase in the price of rice and other commodities. He stressed that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the things being imported before December, the price of rice may skyrocket to N40, 000.00 a bag. Reports had emerged last week that the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), has removed the ban on importation of rice. But hours later, the NCS released a statement informing Nigerians that it effect a total ban on the importation of rice into the country by 2017. The disclosure was made in Abuja just as the Service denied reports circulating posting in the internet media that the Customs had lifted the ban on