The Federal Government has approved N60 billion in support of its rice subsidy programme aimed at bringing down the price of the commodity across the country.
Dr Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the National Food Security Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
He disclosed that a committee would be constituted by the ministry of agriculture in collaboration with ministry of finance for smooth implementation of the rice subsidy programme.
“There is a subsidy programme coming up. Government has approved some money, N60 billion to support the rice industry to bring down prices. But we are going to handle it differently.
“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, and if they have cheaper credit to do their business that should impact on the price of rice in the market.
“Every country does it for food, we will use a different method to do it and it will be cheap credit to the farmers, millers and the marketers, not outright cash subsidy for their product,” he said.
Ogbeh announced that the Bank of Agriculture would soon be restructured, adding that government hopes farmers would be able to buy shares in the bank after the restructuring exercise.
“And we hope in the process that it will bring down interest rates reasonably maybe 5 percent or a little higher, so that agriculture will become attractive and people can raise capital to invest,” he said.
The minister revealed that the Council called for ban of fertilizer NPK 15-15-15, saying recent research had indicated that the fertilizer had no value for any crop or soil.