By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe on Friday said that the local farmers quest for profit has continued to see food prices soar despite recent economic recovery declared by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS.
The Minister disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Abuja.
Ogbe noted that with the level of profiteering being enjoyed by local farmers, it will be difficult to make them lower their prices but said he is pleading with them to see how food prices can come down.
“We have this little challenge with the farmers and middlemen and end users which we are going to carefully try and resolve. It is the same with rice. Why is Nigerian rice expensive? In 2015 July one ton of rice sold for Sixty Five Thousand Naira (N65,000.00) last year June, one Ton of rice went to One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N150,000.00). So the millers said as long as they were buying for N150,000.00 for a Ton of Paddy and milling, they couldn’t sell their rice for less than Seventeen Thousand Naira (N17,000.00) per bag after milling.
“So we called a meeting between millers and farmers and we are brokering an arrangement now where the price of paddy should drop reasonably to N120,000 per ton of paddy. The millers said if they buy at 120, they will sell rice at N13,000 in the market”, he said.
He continued “I am begging the rice farmers saying I grew rice before o(sic). I was in fact, the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones. At N150,000.00, it’s a bit too much. At N120,000.00 they are making good profit.
The Minister who himself is a farmer, said “as long as the farmers are making money, I can’t force them. So I’m begging them to be more reasonable. They turned around to tell me “you told us to farm, now you are getting jealous we are making money”.
” I’m sure you see the tricky part of it. I can’t force them but I think the next time we meet with the rice farmers association it will be brought up; because they have said they have a certain price which will be good for the Millers and good for them as well”.
To poor Nigerians, he said “I am sorry that food prices are still high. We are not happy about that but we are not going to turn around and bully farmers. We’ll persuade them, and as we give them more input, we hope that things will stabilise so that non farmers can also eat well”.
Mean while, the Minister disclosed that the National Conference of the Transformation of Nigerian Livestock Industry will take place on the 12th-14th of September, 2017.
He said the proposed Conference is aimed at addressing, amongst other things, the issues of access to land and land security in order to resolve the farmers-herdsmen conflicts, infrastructure, inputs and Management Strategies for sustainable livestock development.