The Federal Government has approved the sum of N60 billion as subsidy to drive down the price of rice in the country.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Friday after the meeting of the National Food Security Council held at the Presidential Villa and presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ogbe, who was flanked by the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, while speaking with State House correspondents, explained that the purpose of the subsidy was to help bring down the price of the commodity in the country.
He said: “There is a subsidy programme coming up. The government has approved some money, N60bn, 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 they have cheaper credit to do their business that should impact on the price of rice in the market.
“When we are ready, we will let you know.”
Governor Bagudu, while speaking with journalists, recalled that a recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture indicated that Nigeria was still a major importer of rice.
“We drew the attention of the Council to a report, which suggested that Nigeria had been importing rice to the tune of about three million tonnes.
“We informed the council that contact has been made with the US agency to tell us the basis for the report because it is not consistent with the report available to us.
“The only official importation in Nigeria is about 4,000 metric tonnes of rice.
“Secondly, the biggest exporter of rice, Thailand, exported 1.1 million metric tonnes of rice to West Africa between January and October this year and India exported 402,000 metric tonnes of rice to West Africa between January and the end of July this year.
“That is a total of 1.5 million metric tonnes.
“Even if all was smuggled into Nigeria, that was the total amount of importation one could attribute to Nigeria”, Bagudu said.
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