From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Developement, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Thursday met with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) to explore possibility of adopting flood resistant rice variety.
The Minister also discussed with the association on new structure that will ensure drastic reduction in the cost of local rice.
The meeting which held at the minister’s conference room at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture had in attendance RIFAN state chairmen from the 36 states as well as rice millers.
Audu restated commitment to supporting the rural farmers, reduce hunger and promote massive food production and exports.
He said: “We acknowledge the fact that the floods have done a very terrible damage to rice fields, the water levels are so high, many rice farms have been flooded. We have taken into account the suggestions by farmers that we should look for varieties of rice that are flood tolerant, we will activate our contacts and research institutes to see what we can do quickly and we accept the commitments you have made as RIFAN that as soon as the rains go down, you will go into new cropping so that some of the residual water in land and irrigation facilities will give us another harvest of rice in about 90 days to 120 days so we can supply rice to the millers.”
Speaking on the rice, he said: “We have been discussing the modalities to put in place to make sure that local rice sells much cheaper and that the prices can fall to the levels of foreign rice and eventually, below the levels of foreign rice. Every country in the world supports agriculture whether they call it subsidy or support, it is exactly the same thing.
“We are happy that the CBN has agreed to bring down interest rates on agric and manufacturing to one digit. We applaud that decision but at the level of FMARD and BOA, we have set up a fund which we intend to manage to support both the farmers, millers and marketers to bring down the price of rice because we are concerned about the cost of rice for the Nigerian family.
“We want our people to feed well and feed cheaply but these things have to be managed carefully because we are dealing with public funds. We are also going to meet in about two weeks and organise rice fair beginning in Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, PH and one or two other cities to showcase the achievements of Nigerian in rice production.
“There are those who do not believe that Nigerian rice exist but we know they do and we are very proud of the millers for their tenacity, investments and pains they have gone through in the last few years in trying to respond to a national call.”