How farmers resisted reduction of food prices, Ogbeh
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, said it was farmers that resisted the Federal Government from reducing food prices.
The minister, who spoke during a town hall meeting in Abuja, disclosed that the farmers petitioned him accusing the government of denying them the chance to make profit.
He said; “When our committee met and decided to find a way to bring down prices, I had petitions from farmers who told me, you told us to and grow food, now we are making money, you want to deny us our profit so they resisted.
Ogbeh also attributed the increase in the price of food to the high cost of transportation owing to the increase in the price of diesel from N180 to N300 per litre.
He said; Trailer owners were charging from Lagos to kaduna 400,000 It used to be 180,000. All these prices feed into the cost of our produce”.
Ogbeh further attributed the reason for the high cost of local rice against imported ones to high interest rate and the increasing cost of production.
“First, Vietnam, India, is Thailand are the importers of rice, Thailand subsidises the production of rice to be able to earn foreign exchange. So the rice lands here at about N9,000 to N10,000 per bag and by the time the traders take it out, they sell for about N13,000 per bag.
‘Nigeria rice is not going below N16,000 per bag. Why? Our interest rates in this country are higher than most interest rates in the world. “Two, you have to run a diesel generator to operate your farm and rice mills. Over the period of the last 15 months, diesel went from about N180 per litre to N300 and the miler has to run diesel’. He stated
However, from here we are going to a meeting; I and the Minister of Finance with the Acting President, and one of the issues is this question of rice. The good news is in another month, you will have Nigerian rice in the shops at the best price you ever had.”
Ogbeh reiterate government’s resolve not to allow smugglers to destroy the economy, because there are about 14 million farmers growing rice ‘and if the cheap foreign rice runs us out of business here, all those villages and small scale farmers growing rice will abandon the business, the 20 rice mills will close down and we are looking for a means to create jobs . So we have make to sure that our rice is cheap, affordable and the rice of choice for Nigerians and we are going to do it.”
The Minister also gave reasons why the price of cassava sky rocketted. According to him, the harvesting method of cassava is done manually and would be almost impossible to do that during the dry season farming, “ You have to bend down and pull the thing from the ground. But we found out from Colombia and Brazil that they have now invented machines that plant and harvest cassava, and we are now producing them here. So whether during the dry or wet season farming, the machine can easily pull off the cassava from the ground.’’
He assured that the price of garri would soon drop during the rainy season.
On the issue of farmers and herders men conflict, the Minister said, “ we will look into it at the AU conference, Most of the conflicts and the violent herdsmen you see are not from Nigeria, and our borders are open, we are trying to get every country in West Africa to contain their cattle, and we will deal with ours otherwise they will keep coming.