BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR,
Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has blamed middle men who inflate the prices of paddy rice as being responsible for high cost of Nigerian or local rice in the markets.
Ogbeh stated this in Abuja during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Liaising Company (NAMEL) and Mechanisation Service Provider (MSPS).
He said middle men have been inflating the prices of paddy rice, thereby making rice millers to sell Nigerian rice at a higher price than that of the imported rice.
He however, assured that the Federal Government would soon introduce Guaranteed Minimum Price to check the unpatriotic activities of middle men who short change farmers on their investments.
Ogbeh also attributed some of the challenges confronting the agricultural sector to bad policies of the past administrations.
According to him, “People have been complaining why Nigeria is unable to produce or feed herself.
“We don’t need a fortune teller to tell us where we went wrong. We destroyed our Naira by government policies in the past, there is nowhere in the world that government will allow his currency to fall every week for 30years”
“The same people who forced our currency down are complaining of unproductivity, lack of growth, lack of progress in the agricultural sector and Nigeria’s inability to feed itself.
“Nigerian intellectuals still repeat such things that Nigeria cannot feed herself and they refuse to recognise where the trouble started.”
Therefore, Ogbeh tasked the media to start asking questions on how opposition parties intend to deal with issues like interest rate and exchange rate, if voted into power, adding that “nobody can produce anything at the present interest rate of 25-30percent and whoever is telling you they can do magic is lying to you”
Ogbeh, once again assured that there would be no shortage of food occasioned by recent flooding in some states in the country, saying “We will not sit here and watch Nigerians starve, we are aware that the cost of food is a bit high due to cost of transportation and other factors but most importantly we want to ensure that the rural farmers are richer and happier, they have suffered too much.”
While commenting on the MoU signed, Ogbeh said government is not good managers to maintain and service tractors, adding that farmer organisations have the capacity to manage tractors than government.
Therefore, he urged the farmer organisations to ensure that tractors were deployed based on needs and specifics, advising NAMEL to work on importing tractors that consume less diesel.