In an effort to reduce the price of rice across the country, the Nigerian government has approved 60 billion rice subsidy fund.
This was announced by the Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the National Food Security Council.
The meeting was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Friday 16th November 2018.
The implementation of this rice subsidy will be done in a collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance.
“There is a subsidy programme coming up. Government has approved some money, N60 billion to support the rice industry to bring down prices. But we are going to handle it differently.
“We don’t want to get into petroleum subsidy problem, so a committee is looking at it with the ministry of finance.
“We think that it is better for us to loan money to the millers, farmers and distributors at a very low interest rate, so that the capital doesn’t disappear, and if they have cheaper credit to do their business that should impact on the price of rice in the market.
“Every country does it for food, we will use a different method to do it and it will be cheap credit to the farmers, millers and the marketers, not outright cash subsidy for their product,’’ he said.
Chief Audu Ogbeh also announced that the Bank of Agriculture will soon be restructured. He added that when the restructuring is complete, farmers will be able to buy shares from the bank.
He said the restructuring will reduce the bank interest rate to five percent with a goal of attracting more investment to agriculture and farming.
“The Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) is about to restructure the bank of agriculture after which farmers are going to be able to buy shares in the bank, so eventually it will become the farmers bank.
“And we hope in the process that it will bring down interest rates reasonably maybe 5 percent or a little higher, so that agriculture will become attractive and people can raise capital to invest,’’ he said.
The Minister added, “We call for the ban of fertilizer NPK 15-15-15 which has been used in the country for many years but recent research revealed its not useful for any crop or any soil.
“Soil differs and so does crop, to believe there is one uniform fertilizer you can spread for every crop is a fallacy.
“And it’s because we have done soil test and change the formulations of fertilizers, local blenders, that is why some of the yields we are getting now are rising from two tonnes per hectares to five and six.
“So, the president is looking into that and to see how we can deal with it.’’
The Deputy Chairman of the National Food Security Council and Governor of Kebbi state Atiku Bagudu said that the rice subsidy was to reduce the price of rice during the yuletide season.
He said the government might subsidies the rice with about 5 billion naira. The governor also dismissed any reports by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Market and Trade that Nigeria has been importing rice to the tune 3 million tones.
“Certainly, that is an erroneous report, in spite of the flooding the upland rice production has been quite strong this year.
“Even though prices have increase in response to flooding, we still have adequate paddy rice in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Credit: Premium Times