Additional highlights from the presentations of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh during the mid-term reports presented by some Ministers at the 10th Town Hall meeting organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Abuja has indicated that local rice will begin to saturate Nigerian markets before the end of the year.
Ogbeh stressed that the plan to crash the price of local rice in the market and make it affordable to Nigerians, was to protect the interest of local rice farmers and prevent importers of foreign rice from pushing them out of business.
According to him, “In another month, you will have Nigerian rice flooding the local markets at whatever better price you have. We will not allow foreigners to push our farmers out of business. This will make local rice available in local shops”.
Rolling out more figures pointing to the possibility of hids claims before year end, Ogbeh averred that the importation of rice into Nigeria dropped from 580,000 tonnes to 58,000 tonnes in 2016, saving the country about $237.8 million in one year. As part of measures to boost rice production in the country, he said the Ministry would in two weeks distribute 200 rice mills, some with over 100 tonnes daily capacity across the country.
He revealed that part of new efforts to support rice farmers include the ongoing reforms of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) to bring lending rate down to single digit.
He also said more harvest will come up based on the new deal sealed on the partnership with Morocco, leading African fertilizer giant in crashing prices of from N8,000 to N5,500.
Pointer to the claims of the minister seems to have emerged from the recent position of the President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, who averred that annual rice production in Nigeria has increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.
Goronyo disclosed this on Wednesday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
He said that in 2015, Nigerians spent not less than N1bn on rice consumption, adding that while spending had drastically reduced, consumption had increased because of increased local production of the commodity.
“The consumption rate now is 7.9 million tonnes and the production rate has increased to 5.8 tonnes per annum,’’ Goronyo said.
The RIFAN president said the increase was as a result of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme with a total of 12 million rice producers and four million hectares of FADAMA rice land.
Goronyo said that the programme since inception had created economic linkage between Small Holder Farmers and reputable large-scale processors, thereby increasing agricultural outputs and significantly improving capacity utilisation of processors.