The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has cautioned Nigerians of the possibility of paying a huge sum of N40,000 for a bag of rice by December.
Speaking on Saturday at a town hall meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the minister said that Nigeria spends about $22bn a year on importation of food.
Lokpobiri lamented that the large amount spent on food importation was having an adverse effect on the prices of commodities with rice inclusive.
He also stressed that unless Nigerian government begin rice production, prices would soar to N40,000 from its current N26,000.
His words: “For your information, we spend about $22bn a year importing food into Nigeria. We know how many more dollars … and that is why you see the price of rice going up.
“Price of rice was N12,000 some months ago, but it is now about N26,000 and if we don’t start producing, by December it could be N40,000.
“Rice matures in three months. So, this is a wake up call for Bayelsa people to take the four farms we have seriously. The federal government has four farms in the state in our records. The average land you see in Bayelsa can grow rice, so the colonial masters were not wrong in their assessment when they said Niger Delta could feed not only Nigeria but the entire West Africa sub-region.
“Unfortunately, agriculture till today, is not a priority of the Niger Delta as far as the state governments are concerned because of oil.”
Lokpobiri also called on states in the Niger Delta to give priority to agriculture the way the North-West states such as Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano as well as other states like Lagos, Ebonyi, Anambra, have prioritised it.