Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has blamed middle men who he accused of inflating the prices of paddy rice, as being responsible for high cost of local or Nigerian rice in the markets.

Ogbeh stated this in Abuja during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Liaising Company (NAMEL) and Mechanisation Service Provider (MSPS).

He said middle men had been inflating the prices of paddy rice, thereby making millers to sell Nigerian rice at a higher price than that of the imported ones.

He, however, assured that the Federal Government would soon introduce Guaranteed Minimum Price to check the unpatriotic activities of middle men who short change farmers on their investments.

Ogbeh also attributed some of the challenges confronting the agricultural sector to bad policies of the past administrations.

According to him, “People have been complaining why Nigeria is unable to produce or feed herself.

“We don’t need a fortune teller to tell us where we went wrong. We destroyed our naira by government policies in the past, there is nowhere in the world that government will allow his currency to fall every week for 30years.

“The same people who forced our currency down are complaining of unproductivity, lack of growth, lack of progress in the agricultural sector and Nigeria’s inability to feed itself.

“Nigerian intellectuals still repeat such things that Nigeria cannot feed herself and they refuse to recognise where the trouble started.”

Ogbeh tasked the media to start asking questions on how opposition parties intend to deal with issues like interest rate and exchange rate, if voted into power, adding that “nobody can produce anything at the present interest rate of 25-30percent and whoever is telling you they can do magic is lying to you.”

On the MoU, Ogbeh said government was not good managers to maintain and service tractors, adding that farmer organisations had the capacity to manage tractors than government.

He urged the farmer organisations to ensure that tractors were deployed based on needs and specifics, advising NAMEL to work on importing tractors that consume less diesel.

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