The Federal government (FG) has warned dealers of the locally produced rice from hiking the price, as it may pressure retailers to go back to imported rice.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nano, decried this practice which he described as dishonest and unfair.
Nano, who spoke during the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, observed that this hike became widespread after the Federal Government closed the nation’s borders to rice importation in order to encourage local production and self-sufficiency.
He noted that before the border closure, a bag of locally produced rice ranged from N5000 to N9000 but barely two months after the closure, the dealers had hiked the price of a bag of rice to a range of N15000 to N17000 for different brands.
According to him, the effect of the exorbitant hike is that people might decide to take risk to smuggle rice into the country, and Nigerians will bear the most loss for such actions.
“The millers and people that are employed are the ones to bear the loss. Nigerians will lose if we go back to importing rice,” he said.
He assured consumers that the ministry would engage with the producers and dealers in a few weeks’ time to address the indiscriminate hike, as it was unfair to consumers.
“Sometimes people are not honest, before the border closure, rice was sold for between N5,000, N8,000, and N9,000 but shortly after the closure, dealers were selling it at higher prices,’’ he complained.
Nanono described the border closer as the best decision ever taken by the Federal Government for the economic development of the country.
He said that before the closure of the border, there were 11 integrated milling plants, milling about 28 tonnes to 300 tonnes per day, an indication that the country was well on the path to self-sufficiency in rice consumption.