Nigeria’s precious meal, rice, is becoming more affordable as the price of the product dropped in April by an appreciable margin.
The report on prices of selected food released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in May indicated that the price of rice dropped by 7.22 per cent in April.
According to the report published on its website, NBS said the price fell from N418.71 in March to N250.30 in April per kilogramme indicating a 7.22 per cent reduction.
The Bureau also released the current prices of some other products including eggs.
It said that the average price of 1 dozen of medium size Agric eggs decreased month-on-month by 1.71 per cent to N518.66 in April 2017 from N527.69 in March 2017.
The Bureau said that the average price of 1 kilogramme of tomatoes increased by 6.36 per cent.
It means that the price increased from N268.64 in March to N285.72 in April.
An independent check shows that the price of 50 kilogramme bag of imported rice dropped from N28,000 it sold in May last year to N15,500 at the popular Garki Market in Abuja.
The slight increase in the price of tomatoes has been attributed to the season.
Malam Adamu Abubakar, a tomatoes dealer at the market, said that rainy season was not good for cultivation of the northern brand.
He explained that only the Southern brand with heavy seeds can thrive, but not sufficient to meet the demand.
Price of onions has dropped with a small basket which sold for between N800 and N900 in March selling for between N400 and N500 in May.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Tuesday at a Town Hall meeting in Abuja revealed the reason behind the increased price of Nigerian rice compared to the imported rice.
He pointed out that despite government’s efforts, the locally produced rice remains expensive compared to the imported rice because most of the imported rice was subsided by the foreign governments.
He further noted that most rice brought into the country were a product of Vietnam, India and Thailand whose government have imposed export subsidies on their products.
Audu Ogbeh further pointed that imported rice arrive into the country at about N9,000 per bag and are subsequently sold for about N13,000 per bag to consumers unlike the local rice which is sold for about N16,000 per bag.
He noted that the federal government was working on plans to better the lots of Nigerian farmers as there would be a meeting with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun to discuss rice prices among other matters.
Also, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources says it has begun the implementation of the National Roadmap toward increasing the country’s irrigated agriculture from 100,000 to 130, 000 hectares by 2020.
The Minister, Mr Suleiman Adamu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that this was part of the ministry’s plan to boosting food production and generating foreign earnings.
“I will say it’s work in progress, between now and 2020, we hope to bring an additional 30,000 hectares based on what we have on ground and other intervention programmes.
“When we are able to complete all the projects on ground, we will be able to get 130,000 hectares by 2020.
‘‘I think that is a good step, of course we can’t do much now until we get the 2017 budget passed.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has stated at the opening ceremony of the 42nd regular meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state that plans are underway to set up 200 rice mills across Nigeria.
He also revealed that government would also begin the distribution of processing machines to women and youths to fight unemployment in the country. He said “A new programme of Agro-industrialization is going to happen in the states; young people, women, elders who are interested will receive machines, we will subsidize at 60%, you can set up your oil mill, set your rice mill, set up cassava mills, set up yam flour mills, do whatever you can in the village; we don’t all have to migrate to the cities to survive. “There are two-hundred rice mills we are about to give out and every state must have one”, he added.
Regarding fertilizers, Mr. Ogbeh said: “We have given you a formula for every state. I am still very disappointed when I see some states are ordering fertilizer NPK 15-15-15. There is no soil in Nigeria that can accept the same amount of potassium phosphates and nitrogen; soils differ”.
Mr. Ogbeh also tasked state commissioners of Agriculture to include school farms in their plans, saying that “I want to ask you to include this in your agenda for the schools; the boarding schools in your states have to re-introduce school farms. Let the children learn how to grow chickens, let them learn to grow tomatoes even for the kitchen, learn to process something and when you start we will see what help we can get for you.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned at the high rate of illegal migration of Nigerian youths to European countries through the Mediterranean Sea.
Mr. Buhari made this known at the 32rd Annual Meeting of the Sahel and West Africa also to mark its week, organised by the Food Crisis Protection Network in Abuja on Monday.
The president, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for an immediate stop to the action by Nigerians, saying it was unfair to European countries.
He said that agriculture revitalisation was a solution to the migration issue, while expressing the readiness of his administration to support farmers in order to boost local production in the country.
“We are pained when we see our youth across West and North Eastern Africa in a desperate attempt to cross the desert; get to Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
“We consider it as something that must stop as fast as possible because it is unfair to Europe.”
Data from the European Union indicate that an average of 83 Nigerians crossed illegally from Nigeria to Europe, daily, via the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2016.
The daily figure was extrapolated from the 22,500 illegal Nigerian migrants that the EU said crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and September this year.
Nigeria, however, said it hopes to use agriculture to stem the tide of illegal migration.
“We think that if we reorganise our agriculture better, many of these youths will earn a decent living at home rather than become an embarrassment to their host countries and to us here in Africa,” the president said.
“We are not unmindful of our youths population here, hence the need to ensure that the agriculture sector is revitalised as soon as possible.
“We have decided that we will no longer rely on rainfall, we will create dams, water reservoirs and insist on harvesting food at least three times in a year,” he added.
On food crisis in the West African region, he described the threat as real, saying that urgent steps were necessary to address the challenge.
According to him, there are 800 million hectares of agricultural land across the world yet to be cultivated and Africa owns half of them.
The president, appealed to Sahel and West African agricultural stakeholder to devise ideas that would guarantee better management in cattle breeding through artificial insemination.
Mr. Buhari, however, said his administration was aggressively tackling humanitarian crisis of the Internally Displaced Persons by attending to issues of food and nutrition, especially for women and children in the North East.
Marcel De Souza, the President of ECOWAS Commission, said that no fewer than 4 million Nigerians were internally displaced as a result of the insecurity in the North eastern region.
He listed some of the developmental challenges of the Sahel and West African regions to include economic and political governance.
Mr. De Souza called on governments of the regions to invest toward addressing unemployment and food crisis, which he described as bane to development.
Kassoum Denon, the Malian Minister of Agriculture, appealed to various countries in the Sahel and West Africa to share ideas and success stories with a view to addressing food crisis in the regions.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Food Crisis Protection Network is an international network created in 1984 as part of regional system for the prevention of food crisis.
It brings together Sahelian and West African expertise of the humanitarian and development spheres by mobilising available resources for social protection, livelihoods, nutrition, agricultural development, natural resources management to benefit the most vulnerable populations.
The Presidency on Monday warned that Nigeria could face famine in January if drastic steps are not taken now.
Nigeria, which is currently Africa’s largest producer of cereals and grains risks famine from early next year as a huge demand in the global market is targeting Nigeria’s surplus production.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu made the grim forecast in a radio interview in Kano on Monday.
Shehu told Pyramid radio that the “huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year.”
He said the Ministry of Agriculture has advised the President on the need to draw the attention of all Nigerians to the issue which, if not addressed promptly, could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January.
He said: “Over the past year, Providence has blessed Nigeria with a bountiful harvest of grains, more than enough to feed the country and to export to other countries. At present, there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria, and from places as far away as Brazil.
“However, the ministry of agriculture has raised concerns about a massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January,” Malam Garba said.
He explained that Nigeria currently enjoys a free market situation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is not in any way opposed to or intent on tampering with that. On the other hand, exporters also have a moral obligation to make their produce available to Nigerians who live within our country’s borders, to ensure that our citizens have access to food,” he added.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity informed the radio station that the ministry of agriculture estimated that no fewer than 500 trucks laden with grain leave Nigerian markets every week, headed for countries outside Nigerian borders.
“The major markets involved in this exportation are: the Dawanau market in Kano, Naigatari in Jigawa, Bama in Borno, and Ilela in Sokoto, as well as three other main markets in Kebbi State,” he said.
He further explained that President Buhari has on various occasions reiterated his plan for Nigeria to become a food-producing giant, self-sufficient to the point of depending very little on imported food.
“This noble plan could easily be defeated by the pull of the foreign market if food continues to leave our shores to feed people elsewhere. If care is not taken, Nigeria could face a famine by January,” he stressed.
“Building our country into the edifice we envision it to be will require sacrifice and strategy from every single Nigerian. Let us remember that charity begins at home,” said in the program.
Asked a question on what the government is doing to avert the frightening situation, the Presidential Spokesman said that President Buhari has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to present a quick plan for the purchase of surplus grains to be stored in warehouses across the country to save for the rainy day but opined that there was a need for moral pressure on exporters by traditional and religious authorities to curtail the depletion of the home market.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says the country has huge deficit in the demand and supply of food commodities.
The minister said this while receiving a team of Russian investors led by the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Udovicnenko Nikolai who visited him in Abuja on Friday.
Ogbeh said that the present administration was ready to evolve flexible policies that would promote agricultural investments.
He said that the country’s demand for rice was currently at seven million tonnes but the local production was at about 3.5 million tonnes, adding that there was a deficit of four million tonnes.
The minister also said that the country had a deficit of three million tonnes in fish production.
According to Ogbeh, we are encouraging potential investors to come to Nigeria and invest, apart from production, we encourage processing of agricultural produce.
He appealed to potential investors, particularly the Russians to take advantage of the existing huge market in the production of rice, wheat, maize, fish, dairy, vegetables and other food crops to invest in Nigeria.
He said, “We will evolve flexible policy that will promote investment and when we see your willingness to invest, we will create enabling environment.
“Nigeria being one of the largest economies in Africa has millions hectare of arable land for agricultural production and any investment in Nigeria is a gateway to other African countries.
“The policy thrust of this administration is to enhance local production of agricultural produce thereby creating wealth and jobs for the teeming youth.”
He called for the support of the Russian Government in areas of agricultural machinery and technical expertise to boost agricultural yields.
Earlier, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Tkachev Alexander, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said they came to explore areas of collaboration with the Nigerian government in the development of agriculture sector.
“Nigeria has huge potential in agriculture like Russia and we are interested in contributing to the economic development of Nigeria through agriculture.
Alexander said that Russian companies were ready to contribute to the nation’s dairy, beef and poultry production as well as provision of machinery and technology if given the opportunity.
The cluster of rice farms in Niger are expected to produce one million tonnes of rice through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the bank said in a statement in Abuja o Sunday.
The CBN acting Director of Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said in the statement that the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, made the fact known when he inspected rice farms in some local government areas of the state. The Governor was accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, the Governor of Niger, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, and the Governor of Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu.
Emefiele said that over 14,000 farmers in Niger had benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with billion naira disbursed from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund . He said that the programme’s enhanced funding for agriculture was in line with the bank’s resolve to build a strong and sustainable agriculture sector with integrated value chains.
On his part, Ogbeh said President Muhammadu Buhari was satisfaction with the programme and commended the farmers for contributing to efforts to ensure food security for Nigerians. He assured the farmers that government would provide them harvesters and mills. Ogbeh expressed optimism that the planned installation of state-of-the-art harvesters and mills would lead to increased production of rice in Nigeria.
He also promised that the government would provide them a solar-powered irrigation system to ensure all-year-round farming. The minister urged farmers to embrace shifting cultivation to ensure the restoration of depleted soil nutrients. He said that government would soon stop the importation of rice into Nigeria because of increased local production of the crop.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Farmers’ Cooperative in Niger, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed, thanked the Federal Government for assisting farmers in the state. He cited the lack of mechanised farming and irrigation tools for dry season farming as some of the challenges facing farmers.
Mohammed, however, urged the farmers to remain focused and committed to rice production as government was determined to address the issue of local agriculture production.
President Buhari on Nov. 17, 2015, launched the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Kebbi. The programme has been replicated in 14 states of Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara for rice and wheat farmers. The programme aims to upgrade small farmers to commercial farmers, increase food production and create jobs. (NAN)
The Federal Government on Monday declared that the price of rice would start to fall from November this year.
It stated that more Nigerians had returned to their various farms, adding that at the next harvesting season next month, the price of rice would start to crash.
This came as the government said that the delay in the approval of the 2016 budget had made it impossible to implement the capital expenditure in the agricultural sector.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said this while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja.
Ogbeh, who stated that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters, stressed that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would be detrimental to local production.
He said the Federal Government was against rice smuggling and noted that the Seme border had become a notorious route for the smuggling of contraband products into the country.
“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 the full-scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall,” the minister said.
Early last month, the government had warned that the price of rice might hit N40,000 a bag. It is currently being sold around N20,000.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, said that the $22bn annual food import bill had led to the astronomical rise in the price of rice and other commodities.
He stressed that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the items being imported before December, the price of rice could skyrocket to N40,000 a bag.
On why the ministry had yet to start implementing its capital budget, Ogbeh said, “It is about now that the capital expenditure is beginning. One of the reasons why money is not circulating is that we need to follow the due process on issues of procurement, advertisement and others.”
According to him, his ministry has spent just N882.58m, representing four per cent of the N21bn budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act.
He also 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 whatever we are doing at the federal level.”
Ogbeh further stated that his ministry inherited N67bn debt when the present administration came on board, but added that N20bn had been paid to agro-dealers and distributed 900 million oil palm seedlings to farmers across the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the town hall meetings being held across the country by the Federal Government provides an avenue for both the government and the governed to exchange ideas, thus fostering good governance.
”It’s not so much about the government explaining its programmes and policies but also about those who are governed expressing their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. What I found today is that there is a lot of misconception and prejudices, which this kind of platform will throw more light on,” the Minister told newsmen at the end of the South-East Edition of the town hall meeting in Enugu on Monday.
He said each part of the country has its unique and peculiar challenges, and that sustained and robust engagement through the town hall meetings will provide the veritable platform to correct some of the misconceptions and throw more light on government’s policies and programme. “The major takeaway is that there is no substitute to such meeting because it provides the avenue and vehicle for both the government and the governed to exchange ideas. You can imagine the kind of questions we received today (Monday) either on agriculture or appointment or infrastructural development. Clearly, at the end of the day, I felt better because we were able to explain to our brothers and sisters here that this government will not marginalise any part of the country,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Also speaking to newsmen after the meeting, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said as a follow up to the town hall meetings, cabinet ministers would soon hold a retreat to discuss and articulate ways through which they can enhance service delivery to Nigerians. “Very soon we will have a cabinet retreat where all ministers will come together and discuss issues and find out what people’s reactions are and how we can help each other to solve the problems as well. It’s a finer way of running a country. Keep in touch with the people and they will tell you what they don’t like or what they are unhappy about and suggest to you how to do it,” Chief Ogbe said.
On his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, said through the Economic Diplomacy initiated by this administration, his ministry would create more avenues for Nigerians to access foreign investors and partners in order to enhance the quality of their businesses. “We want to build a platform to empower ordinary Nigerians to be able to access any market anywhere in the world and that’s why we are working to produce match-making database, where we will be putting in touch Nigerian businesses that want to sell to potential markets and Nigerians who are looking for investors and partners,” he said.
The Enugu town hall meeting was the fifth in a series that started in Lagos on April 25th 2016 and has now been held in Kaduna, Kano and Uyo. At Monday’s town hall meeting, host Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed was joined by the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama; Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah; Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachukwu and the Minister of State for Environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman Jibrin.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has said that the N165 billion civil service monthly wage bill is over-bloated and can no longer be sustained by the federal government.
The minister spoke on Thursday in Lagos at a meeting with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) attended by her counterparts in the Ministry of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Ministry of Environment, Ms. Amina Mohammed, and Ministry of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh.
Adeosun, who provided details on the economic reform agenda of the federal government, said the N165 billion being paid to federal civil servants monthly represented 40 per cent of the total spending of government, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
She said the figure was too high and the government was pursuing aggressive measures to detect and prosecute ghost workers and other saboteurs in the system.
“We spend N165 billion every month on salaries and when I came in there was no checking.
“Now, we have created a unit assigned with the sole responsibility of checking the salaries and catching those behind the over-bloated salaries,” she said.
Adeosun said the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) introduced by the previous administration was defective and sabotaged by the elements benefitting from the salary fraud.
She said many federal government establishments including the police were yet to be captured in the system.
According to her, it was shocking that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which is not fully functional, still had 10,000 workers in its payroll serviced by government.
The minister assured her audience that government would correct the anomalies in the payroll system and weed out all ghost workers in the civil service.
Adeosun said that the fiscal focus of the administration was to ensure economic growth that would be measured on job creation and productive sectors growth.
“The economy is not measured by how many private jets we have but how many jobs we create. People must be productive for the economy to grow.
“We have been a consumer economy, but we want to be productive and stop buying everything from abroad.
“We have been borrowing to pay salaries for years and that has to stop because it is not sustainable.
“Last year, we spent N64 billion on travelling and only N19 billion on roads. Travelling does not grow the economy and this must also stop,’’ she said.
The minister said the compound Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country had been negative in the last 10 years and the administration was working to correct this.
She added that the administration would be the most disciplined government the country has ever had in terms of fiscal accountability and responsibility.
Also speaking at the meeting, Ogbeh said government would reposition the agricultural sector to become the mainstay of the economy.
“The ministry will give policy direction and coordination to make farming attractive and for people to practice it as a business.
“Government will put a policy in place to recover the $22 billion which is floating out of the country’s resources to sustain farms in other countries back to our villages.
“Government will also ensure that banks review the double-digit interest rate on loans to farmers and other productive sectors.
“The change promised may appear to be slow, but it is actually taking place. In this year, we have harvested millions of tonnes of rice,” he said.
The Minister of Environment, in her contribution, said government would complete the clean up of Ogoniland in the next one year and ensure the degraded land is revived for productive purposes.
She said the Great Green Wall project targeted at planting trees to control desert encroachment would also be given priority by the administration