The federal government has disclosed its plan to disburse N60 billion to subsidise rice production.
Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, made the disclosure after a meeting of the National Council on Food Security.
President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the meeting in Abuja on Friday.
“There is a subsidy programme coming up. Government has approved N60 billion to support the rice industry to bring down prices. But we are going to handle it differently,” he said.
“We don’t want to get into petroleum subsidy problem. So, a committee is looking at it with the ministry of finance.
“We think that it is better for us to loan money to the millers, farmers and distributors at a very low interest rate, so that the capital doesn’t disappear, so they have cheaper credit to do their business that should impact on the price of rice in the market.
“When we are ready we will let you know.”
He said the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had concluded plans to restructure the bank of agriculture, making it possible for investors and farmers to buy shares in the bank.
“It will eventually become the farmers’ bank. And we hope that in the process this will bring down interest rates reasonably maybe five percent or a little higher, so that agriculture will become attractive and people can raise capital to invest,” he said.
Ogbeh also said the federal government had approved N24 billion as compensation for flood victims across the country.
Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi state governor, who was also at the meeting, dismissed the report that Nigeria will become the second largest importer of rice in 2019,
“Certainly, that is an erroneous report. Even in spite of the flooding, the upland rice production has been quite strong this year. Even though prices have increase in response to flooding, we still have adequate paddy rice in Nigeria,” he said.