Prices of rice will begin to drop from November. That’s according to the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe.

The Minister gave the hint Monday while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

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A bag of rice is currently sold around N20,000. Government said the $22bn annual food import bill was responsible for the astronomical rise. And it had warned, few weeks back, that the price could rise to N40,000.

Ogbeh stated that his ministry would not encourage rice importation because it would affect local production. He added that the government could not be involved in the importation of rice as speculated in some quarters.

“We will not encourage rice importation. And there is no way our ministry or government can be involved in importing rice when we are working hard to be self-sufficient in local production. By November, when the full-scale harvest starts, rice prices will fall,” the minister said.

Capital Budget

On why the ministry had yet to start implementing its capital budget, the minister said, “It is about now that the capital expenditure is beginning.

”One of the reasons why money is not circulating is that we need to follow the due process on issues of procurement, advertisement and others.”

According to him, his ministry has spent just N882.58m, representing four per cent of the N21bn budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act.