Festive Season: Farmers Assure Nigerians of Surplus Rice
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RPAN) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) have promised to meet the demand for rice by residents of the country during the yuletide season.
In August 2019, the federal government closed the land borders in an effort to curb smuggling of rice into the nation. Since this policy announcement, prices of the commodity has gone up at the local market. However, the decision to shut the borders, according to the group, has boosted local production of rice to 1.8 million metric tonnes.
Chairman of RPAN, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, during a media chat on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the combined capacity of integrated mills produced about 150,000 truckloads of rice on a daily basis as well as 1.8 million metric tonnes annually.
“Before the border closure, there have been several complaints about tons of rice in the warehouse not in use. Today, all the mills that were folded are now back into operation fully.
“Also considering the health implication, the rice being produced now is from the factory straight to the market which means it is fresh for every consumer to eat, but before the one being smuggled before were sometimes two-three years old, stuck in Benin republic and unhealthy for human consumption.
“I can assure Nigerians that they will find rice everywhere and throughout this festive period,” he said.
Mr Abubakar noted that the figure was different from millions of metric tonnes produced annually by small scale millers and local millers, adding that reports that rice distributors were made to pay up to two months advance without their rice being delivered to them were false.
On his part, the RIFAN President, Mr Aminu Goronyo, said the large increase in production was as a result of the border closure. He called on the federal government to sustain the policy so as to boost local manufacturing.
“Because of the border closure, our production capacity has improved tremendously now from 100,000 metric tons of rice production to about 1.8 million metric tons just within the period of the border closure.
“There are rumours around that country that rice farmers do not have the capacity to feed the country with paddy rice, which I want to state categorically that it is not true.
“As we speak, farmers will not even be able to sell their paddy in 2019 because of the bumper harvest they receive for this year’s rainy season production and harvest if not for the border closure.
“Distributors are now rushing farmers to buy their paddy, and if not for the closure, paddy that farmers produced in the rainy season will not be exhausted in the next one and a half year.
“Also, RIFAN have also put strategies in place for the forthcoming dry season so that there can be sustained rice production by over 1.5 million farmers that will be engaged in the dry season harvest,” he said.