Rice farmers accuse corporate bodies of causing scarcity

The National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo has alleged that some individuals and corporate bodies are the cause of the current scarcity of rice in Nigeria.

Goronyo made the allegation while speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) via telephone on Monday, December 5.

According to him, the individuals and corporate bodies are hell-bent on sabotaging the federal government's efforts to diversify the Nigerian economy with focus on agriculture. Goronyo did not mention any name or organisation.

He however assured Nigerians of RIFAN members readiness to make the price of rice affordable and accessible by 2017.

According to him, the association had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some farm input suppliers in the country to ensure prompt supply of cheap fertilisers and pesticides to boost production.

His words: “We are going to assist the FG to produce more than enough rice for this country in 2017. It is part of the plan that we must bring down the price of rice in this country

“There are several efforts that we are making to see that in no distant time, this price of rice will come down for Nigerians to have access to affordable milled rice.’’

Goronyo said that the association was also collaborating with both local and foreign companies to assist in the electronic mapping and registration of rice farms across the country.

He opined that the exercise would help government to plan by having accurate and verifiable available land for rice production in the country.

He also spoke about plans of RIFAN as regards the rice production rate especially in 2017, even as he promised that the association will continue to support the federal government's diversification plan.

“We have more than 4.5 million hectares of FADAMA land for rice production and each hectare has the capacity with a very good practice and management to produce five tonnes per hectare minimum.

“So, in one production cycle, we can produce 10 million metric tonnes of paddy rice and our consumption rate in this country is between 6.5 and seven million metric tonnes per annum.

“So if we can produce 10 million metric tonnes in one production cycle and we have three production cycles in a year, it means that we can feed this country and even export this rice that we produce,’’ he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that Nigeria will begin to export rice to other countries by the end of 2017.

In a related development, operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service recently carried out anti-smuggling operations that has resulted in the confiscation of 2,500 bags of foreign rice.