The Federal Government has frowned at the indiscriminate increase in the cost of local rice, saying it is dishonesty on the part of the dealers and unfair to consumers.
Alhaji Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development made this known at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
“l am going to engage with them on this; we are going to discuss this and l am going to be thorough on it because l know this business.’’
He said that before the closure of the border, the cost of rice ranged between N5,000 and N9,000, adding that most of the dealers had stock for as long as eight months.
Nanono however noted that shortly after, two months into the border closure, they inflated the price to N15, 000, N16, 000 and N17, 000, depending on the brand.
According to him, the effect of the exorbitant hike is that it will make people to take the risk to smuggle rice into the country.
He said that it this persisted; there would be pressure on government to import rice, adding “if such measure is taking who will lose?
“The millers and people that are employed, that is Nigerians that will lose,” he said,
The minister however assured that he would engage with the producers in few weeks’ time to address the indiscriminate hike.
“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 for N15,000 to N16,000 and now it has risen to N17,000.
“There were times when they were buying rice at N5, 000, N8, 000 and most of them if you check they have stock up to eight months.’’
Nanono, however, described 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.
“When the border was closed, a company told me that it was having over 600 tonnes in stock and most of these integrated millers are employing between 200 and 350 people directly,’’ the minister said. (NAN)