The Federal Government through the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,Chief Audu Ogbeh has said the Ministry is to distribute 900 million high yielding seedlings to farmers to boost palm oil production in the country.
The Minister stated this yesterday when the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development paid a visit to him during their oversight functions.
According to Ogbeh, there is 250,000 tons of palm oil shortage to meet local demand, adding that the planed distribution is to meet and surpass the current shortage.
He also said, “the price of rice would begin to fall from November this year, as more Nigerians are responding to the call to return to agriculture, as a result of government’s policy on importation of rice”
Chief Ogbeh emphasized that government could not be involved in rice importation, as being speculated in some quarters, adding that his Ministry would not encourage such a thing that would be detrimental to local production. “We will not encourage rice importation, and there is no way our ministry or government can be involved in importing rice, when we are working hard to be self-sufficient in local production.
By November, when full scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall”, the minister said.
Chief Ogbeh used the opportunity to call of the senators to impress it on state governors to encourage people to go into agriculture in their states in order to complement the federal government’s efforts in the sector. He said, “You may be surprised to know that only six to seven states in Nigeria are showing enthusiasm in agriculture, some by nature don’t seem interested, while others just can’t connect with what we are doing at the federal level.”
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, on his part stated that the $22 billion annual food import bill had led to the astronomical rise in the cost of rice and other commodities. He cautioned that if Nigerians fail to produce some of the items being imported by December this year, the prices of such items could skyrocket.