Mr Akai Egwuonwu, a rice miller in Anambra, on Thursday said Nigeria could be self-sufficient in rice production if the Federal Government maintained a stable policy in rice business.
Egwuonwu, the Managing Director of Stine Industries Ltd., gave the advice ) at Amichi-Nnewi in Anambra.
“The major problem is the uncertainty in the market because of the activities of the Nigeria Customs who sometimes open up the boarders for rice to flow in to raise revenue for the government.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also been wonderful in trying to assure that there would not be importation, but when you go to the markets you will find many bags of foreign rice.
“If there is guarantee that the government will not encourage these importations, we can increase our capacity and become self-sufficient in rice production,” Egwuonwu said.
The rice miller commended the Federal Government for encouraging farmers with standard rice seeds as well as providing them with farm inputs and implements.
He said that his company, which produces about 440 tons of rice per day, had embarked on expansion programmes to increase capacity to meet local demand.
The miller attributed the reason for selling a bag of local rice at N16, 000, which is as high as the imported ones, to the high cost of running mills with diesel and generators.
“Poor electricity supply, high cost of diesel and importation of spare parts as well as high cost of fuel used for transportation are some of the challenges attributed for the high price.
“Our generators consume about 1,400 litres of diesel daily; if that cost is taken-off as well as have some of the challenges resolved, nothing stops the price of local rice to be sold at least N10, 000 for 50 kilogram,” he said.
He expressed confidence that with the intervention of the Anambra and the Federal Governments, farmers were likely to produce more paddies at lower price this year which will also increase production.Vanguard