The lagos-based rice farmer, Mrs Bosun Solarin, has commended the Federal Government for closing land borders and ensuring a window for local farmers to work hard to meet increasing rice demand in the country.
Solarin, also a member of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), made the commendation during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
She said even though farmers might not meet the huge demand for rice by the public, as yuletide season fast approached,very soon, local rice would flood the markets.
“Nigerians should not expect any miracle in three months but before 2020 Christmas, the prices of rice would have crashed and there will be so much local rice in the market,” she said.
Solarin, who also lauded the government for supporting rice farmers, noted that stones posing impediment in the consumption of local rice had become a thing of the past.
She said there had been machines designed to remove stones content in the rice.
“There was an exhibition of rice processing machine recently brought in by Nigerians in diaspora.It is a modular machine that can process 101kgs of rice in one hour.
“Individual farmers can easily afford this machine for rice processing; it comes with its own de-stoner and can be powered by generator when there is no electricity power supply.
“With the influx of rice processing machines into the country at affordable prices to the local farmers, we will be able to overcome the challenges of stones in our local rice.
“With these machines, we can remove the rice husk that the farmers can resell to poultry farmers and the bran can also be sold to pharmaceutical companies.
“We thank God for what the Federal government is doing to support local rice farmers since the land borders were closure. The government is now paying more attention to rice farmers,” Solarin said.
Solarin, however, called on investors to take advantage of the border closure to invest in local rice cultivation, to further boost local production and create more jobs to ensure social security.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Aminu Goroyo, President, Rice Farmers` Association, however, noted that rice consumption had risen tremendously due to changes in consumer preferences from imported rice to local rice.
He said it was in the past that most Nigerians preferred to consume imported rice brands, compared to local rice varieties.
Goroyo traced the development, then, to the fact that most Nigerian rice processors lacked adequate technology of rice processing to meet international standard.
Goronyo said this was because rice processing involved several steps ranging from removal of the husks, milling the shelled rice to removal of the bran layer and whitening step to de-stoners to remove stone content.
According to him, there is also an improvement in rice processing in Nigeria whereby the mechanical and solar dryer for drying rice paddy had replaced traditional sun drying of the commodity.
He said Nigeria had become the highest rice producer country in West Africa, adding that the production soared due to increase in population growth and increase in consumption trend of rice in the country.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government policy on the total ban of rice imports would sustain steady and healthy production of rice in the country.
“Increased production and the recent zeal for local consumption could be attributed to the ban imposed on rice import by President Mohammadu Buhari’s government.
“Nigerian rice farmers have risen to the challenge of meeting the domestic demand for the commodity and for rice production to be boosted.
The Federal government is continuing with the Anchor Borrowers Programme and RIFAN introduced institutions to monitor production, all with the hope of boosting rice production’’ he said.
Goronyo said Nigeria had a good climate for rice production, adding that its favourable market to absorb the production and the quality of indigenous rice had improved tremendously.
This he said would enable the country to compete with foreign rice through selection and adaptation of modern rice technologies to ease labour in production and enhance nutritional qualities in rice processing and production.
“The comparative advantage of Nigeria in rice production is a great opportunity for investors to leverage on and government has played a strong role with the recent policies.
“These policies include ban on rice importation, release of funds and boarder closure that favoured production of local rice,” he said.
RIFAN President also said that the association had signed Memorandum of Understanding with Federal Ministry of Water Resources for proper utilisation of the irrigation channels of the 12 River Basin Authorities (RBDAs) to boost rice production.
Goronyo said the innovation was one of the moves to ensure that more rice flood the market, to force down prices.