The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has said that a bag of rice could be sold for N40,000 by December if Nigeria fails to start producing rice.
Speaking during a town hall meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Saturday, Lokpobiri, said that Nigeria spends about $22 billion a year on importation of food into the country.
“For your information, we spend about $22bn a year importing food into Nigeria. We know how many more dollars they bought and that is why you see the price of rice going up.
“Price of rice was may be 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.
He said rice matures in three months and thus, it is a wake up call for Bayelsan people to take the four farms in the state 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 Nigerian but also the entire West Africa sub-region.”
He said the states in the Niger Delta had yet 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, prioritised it.
He urged the state to emulate state like Anambra, which was not owing salaries despite the fact that it does not have oil but raking in money by merely exporting vegetables.
The price of rice which has been on a steady rise, again skyrocketed as the sallah celebration drew near. A bag now sells between N23,000 – N26,000 depending on the brand, while a custard bucket now sells for N2000.
Traders attributes the exorbitant prices to the high rate of dollar and the restriction placed on importers of certain food items.