It said with more Nigerians back to their various farms, the next harvesting season, which is November will see the price of rice fall.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated this on Monday, October 10 while addressing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja.

On the speculation that the ban on rice importation has been lifted, Ogbeh stressed that it is not true and will not be encouraged as this will be detrimental to local production.

"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.

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, had last month, warned that the price of rice, which currently sells for about N20,000, might rise to N40,000 per bag.

He said that the $22 billion annual food import bill led to the enormous rise in the price of rice and other commodities.

Lokpobiri had said if Nigerians do not produce some of the imported items before December, the price of rice could hit N40,000.

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On the delay in the implementation of the ministry's capital budget, Ogbeh said the stall in the approval of the 2016 budget was responsible for this, adding that the implementation is beginning now.

"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 other," he said.

The Minister said his ministry has spent just N882.58m, representing four per cent of the N21 billion budgeted for it in the 2016 Appropriation Act.

He added: "You may be surprised to know that only six to seven states in Nigeria are showing enthusiasm in agriculture. Some by nature don’t seem interested, while others just can’t connect with whatever we are doing at the federal level."

He noted that the ministry inherited  N67 billion debt, adding that N20 billion has been paid to agro-dealers and 900 million oil palm seedlings distributed to farmers across the country.