Minister of budget and national planning, Mr. Udoma Udo Udoma has said that the federal government was working toward reducing the price of fertilizer to cut down the price of locally produced rice.
The minister, who said this today when he featured on a television current affairs programme on the 2017 Budget in Abuja, said that the federal government was collaborating with the Morocco Government in this regard.
“The imported rice is coming in; most of them are subsidised and undercutting the locally produce rice, which has higher quality.
“The problem is bringing down the price of our rice; we are trying to support rice production by bringing down the price of fertilizer because the price of inputs determines the price of output.
“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 an agreement with Morocco to import phosphate from the country to blend and support fertilizer production. The federal government is working toward strengthening all the value chains to boost productivity and improve yield.
“The whole value chain, first of all, you have to start from the seed. One of the things that 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 fertilizer; what the federal ministry of agriculture has done is undertaking soil analyses of all soil in the 36 states.
“And they have been able to ascertain the blend of fertilizer that is most suitable for a particular kind of soil.
“The farmers will now be advised on what type of fertilizer to use, so that they won’t apply fertilizer 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 chain. The Federal Government is working with the state governments to achieve the objectives of this mission,’’ he said.
Besides, Udoma said that the Federal Government was assisting farmers in the area of soft loans so as to enable them to increase their production and aid the nation’s efforts to achieve 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.