The Federal Government has approved N84bn for rice subsidy and assistance for flood victims across the country.
N60bn was earmarked for rice subsidy, while N24bn is for the payment of compensation to flood victims.
This was disclosed at the end of a meeting of the National Council on Food Security presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe who briefed State House correspondents alongside the Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said the rice subsidy programme would soon be launched.
“There is a subsidy programme coming up. Government has approved some money, N60 billion to support the rice industry to bring down prices. But we are going to handle it differently. We don’t want to get into petroleum subsidy problem. So, a committee is looking at it with the Ministry of Finance.
“We think that it is better for us to loan money to the millers, farmers and distributors at a very low interest rate so that the capital doesn’t disappear, so they have cheaper credit to do their business that should impact on the price of rice in the market,” he said.
The council, according to the minister, is working on plans to ban fertilizer NPK 151515.
“We call for the ban of fertilizer NPK 151515 which has been used in the country for many years but recent research revealed it is not useful for any crop or any soil. Soils differ and so do crops, to believe there is one uniform fertilizer you can spread for every crop is a fallacy. And it’s because we have done soil tests and changed the formulation of fertilizers, local blenders that some of the yields we are getting now are rising from two tonnes per hectare to five and six. So the president is looking into that to see how we can deal with it,” he said. Bagudu who is the vice chairman of the council debunked claims by the United States Department of Agriculture that Nigeria is the second largest importer of rice this year.