Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has said the Federal Government is working towards reducing the price of fertiliser to cut down the price of locally produced rice.
The minister, who disclosed this yesterday when he featured on a television current affairs programme on the 2017 Budget in Abuja, said the federal government was collaborating with the Moroccan government in this regard.
“Imported rice is coming in; most of them are subsidised and undercutting the locally produce rice, which has higher quality.
“The problem has to do with bringing down the price of our rice; we are trying to support rice production by bringing down the price of fertiliser because its price determines the price of rice.
“We are trying to see how we can bring down the prices of farm inputs, so as to cut down the prices of local rice in the country.
“We have agreement with Morocco to import phosphate from the country, to blend and support fertiliser production. The federal government is working toward strengthening all the value chains to boost productivity and improve yield.
“ In the whole value chain you have to start from the seed. One of the things the federal government is doing is to support the development of seeds, because high-quality seeds will engender improved production.
“We are also working on fertiliser; what the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has done is undertaking analyses of all soils in the 36 states.
“And, they have been able to ascertain the blend of fertiliser that is most suitable for a particular kind of soil.
“The farmers will be advised on what type of fertiliser to use, so they won’t apply fertiliser without specifications on crops, as this often leads to low yield. So, we have that as part of the value chain
“Then, we are giving support in terms of evacuating farm produce to the market by constructing and maintaining rural roads. Most of the crops get spoilt as a result of not evacuating them to market in good time.
“We are working on every stage of all the chains. The federal government is working with the state governments to achieve the objectives of this mission,’’ he said.
Besides, Udoma said the federal government was assisting farmers in the area of soft loans to enable them increase their production and aid the nation’s efforts towards self-sufficiency in food production.
“In addition, the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gives loans to farmers at low, single-digit interest rate. In this manner, the government is intervening in various links of the chain to support agricultural production,’’ he said.