The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has warned Nigerians to prioritize agriculture and start rice production by emulating Anambra State, if a bag of rice will not cost upto N40,000 by December 2016, reports NaijaAgroNet.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Saturday, the Minister said that Nigeria spends about $22bn 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.
Rice, he said, 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 Nigerian but also the entire West Africa sub-region,” he said.
The minister lamented that 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 said the states in the Niger Delta were 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 said Anambra State, for instance, was not owing salaries despite the fact that it does not have oil but raking in money by merely exporting vegetables.
Culled from The Vanguard:
Pix: Senator Heineken Lokpobiri