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Experts, stakeholders call for sustainability in Nigeria’s local rice production



Agriculture experts and stakeholders from South-South Nigeria have called for sustainability in local rice production in order to render imported rice totally unattractive to consumers.

Respondents from the geopolitical region also assert that production and consumption of local rice is beneficial to the country as the Nigerian rice is more nutritious, tastier and cheaper than the foreign one.

The respondents, in a survey conducted by our correspondent in the region, said that consumption of locally produced rice created wealth and enabled the country to save foreign exchange.

For Dr Chijioke Osuji, an agro- industry and value chain expert, Nigeria in the past two years had achieved self – sufficiency in rice production to a great extent.

Osuji however, said that there was need to sustain the production of the staple food, something which he noted had always been a challenge in the country.

The expert told our correspondent in Calabar that due to challenges like insecurity, COVID-19 and reduction of input supply which gave the sector a boost in 2013, the nation’s rice production had suffered some setbacks.

“For the locally produced rice, you are sure that it is fresh and obviously tastes better than the imported one that is stored for years and even with chemicals that are hazardous.”

“Also, the more we produce, the more we create jobs for our farmers and youths in the various value chains of transportation, threshing, milling and parboiling,” he added.

Also, Mr Akandu Godwin, Chairman, Rice Farmers, Processors, Producers, Millers and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Rivers chapter, said Nigerians had a lot to gain from production and consumption of local rice.

Godwin who spoke in Port – Harcourt also agreed that the importance of local rice production ranged from availability of food to job creation.

“There is enormous contribution of local production of rice to the economy such as job creation and availability of food.”

“Though, some Nigerians are still smuggling foreign rice into the country, we are consuming majorly our locally produced rice and other goods,” he said.

Godwin said rice farmers in the state were not producing enough due to lack of modern equipment for mechanised farming, adding that this had led to high cost of the commodity.

“Farmers in Rivers State are working hard with the little we have to make sure that we produce rice,” he said.

Godwin suggested that government should buy tractors and bulldozers and hire to farmers so that they could deploy them to their farms.

An agriculturist, Mr Timothy Funpere, told our correspondent in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, that since the ban on importation of rice, locally produced rice had become the favorite of many households in the state.

Funpere says that the price of available foreign rice has jumped between N12,500 and N14, 500 to N30,000 while local rice is sold for N26,000.

He said that attention had shifted to local rice and the increase in patronage had led to increase in price.

The agriculturist added that the local rice industry had realised billions of Naira since the Federal Government banned importation of foreign rice.

“The most important thing is that people have stopped eating foreign rice, the ‘disease’ that we call foreign rice.”

“Secondly, Nigerians are now aware that they can feed themselves; they are no more relying on foreign products.”

“Nigeria had been spending over N358 billion every 12 months in the name of rice importation; today, that money is being saved,” Funpere said.

In Benin, Edo, Lucky Ekinadoese, a trader in Oba Market, said that local rice had a lot of health benefits and contained lots of un-adulterated nutrients, good for the body.

Ekinadoese said that local rice was one of the carbohydrate food sources in Nigeria known to provide adequate energy.

“Apart from that, it is loved by children especially because it digests easily,” she said.

A trader simply identified as Mama Osadolor, told our correspondent at Mission Market, Benin, that majority of Nigerians presently consumed more of local rice than the foreign one.

“Nigerian rice is more nutritious and delicious than foreign rice.”

“As at last year, a bag of local rice was sold for N16,000. At presently, a bag is sold for N26,000 or N27,000, depending on your bargaining power.”

“Local rice consumption is on the high side because of its benefits and taste too,” she said.

Abieyuwa Osamuyi, a trader in New Benin, said chances of bumper harvest of rice were high this harvest season.

“Traders have stocked their warehouses in preparation for Christmas celebration. So far, the prices of rice have not increased,” Osamuyi said.

However, Mr Iwara Bassey, Cross River Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, says that locally produced rice in Nigeria is still expensive for the average Nigerian.

Bassey who spoke in Calabar said that the reason for the high cost of locally produced rice was that the country was not producing enough.

“A bushel of local rice which is about 25kg is between N9,000 and N12,000 in Cross River, depending on the quality.

“The price of a bushel of rice is still on the high side; if we are producing enough, the price will come down and it will be affordable for the masses.”

“From my field experiences, I think we are not producing enough. We are in the harvesting season now but around January next year, the quantity of rice in our mills will have dropped drastically,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Basil Okafor, an executive member of Rice Traders Union, Mile One Market, Port – Harcourt, says that the price of local rice is high as a 50kg bag is sold between N26,000 and N27,000.

Okafor says that foreign rice is sold for N33,000 and N34,000 per 50kg bag, depending on brand.

“When demand is higher than supply, the result is always hike in price. Though we have rice from the north, it is not enough to serve the country.”

“Government should also establish rice farms in the South-West, South-South and South-East to meet the high demand for the product in the country.”

“The consumption of our locally produced rice gives us confidence that we are eating what we produced in our country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Mercy Avwerosuoghen, a civil servant in Asaba, Delta, has attributed the continued consumption of foreign rice by some Nigerians to ego and pride, rather than satisfaction.

“I want to say that those who still patronise foreign rice are doing so due to ego, pride and class distinction. I am sure that informed rich people would prefer the local rice.”

“In fact, given its quality, taste and cost, every Nigerian should go for local rice instead of the more expensive and over-polished foreign rice.”

“Only God knows how long the said foreign rice has stayed in warehouses before being pushed into our markets,” Avwerosuoghen said.

On her part, a rice seller at the Ogbeogonogo Market, Mrs Grace Obiajulu, said the prices of 50Kg bag of local rice ranged from N26,000 to N28,000 depending on type.

Obiajulu said foreign rice cost between N34,000 and N36,000 per 50kg, depending on brand.

According to her, the demand for local rice compared to foreign rice is in the ratio of 70 per cent to 30 per cent in the Delta State capital.

Razak Owolabi

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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