Rice Processors Blame Insecurity, Inflation for High Cost of Food Commodity 

James Emejo in Abuja

The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has attributed the high cost of locally produced rice on persisting insecurity and inflation in the country.

The rice processors also refuted claims that local rice currently sold for about N40, 000 per bag despite being produced in the country.

Addressing journalists yesterday while setting an agenda for the incoming administration for the rice sector, Director-General of RIPAN, Mr. Andy Ekwelem,  said the ex-factory price – the selling cost of goods from seller’s factory – was N31,000.

He said amid rising inflation,  rice remained the only food commodity with the slowest adjustment in price – only about 10 per cent increase. 

Ekwelem said the country’s rice output had been drastically reduced due to insecurity thus further impacting price.

He claimed that some of the rice brands selling for so much are probably imported commodities and urged Nigerians to always double-check before purchases.

Among other things,  he said the recent reopening of the nation’s borders had impacted the production of paddy, charging the incoming administration that effective border management remained central to food security. 

The group also lamented a development whereby foreigners buy up and hoard paddy only to resell at high prices with the attendant implication on the economy in terms of employment generation. 

RIPAN however tasked the incoming administration to further strengthen and sustain the Nigeria rice industry through relevant policies.

Among other things,  the association called for the reposition the Nigeria Custom Services for effective manning of the borders,  stressing that 

Smuggling of rice across the land borders remained the main bane of the sub-sector.

Ekwelem said the incoming administration must have to device a new strategy of dealing with smugglers and economic saboteurs food security programmes and huge investment made by government and private sector must be impactful. 

He called for funding for backwards integration,  stating that here will be need for a funding programme to enable processors engage in paddy production through large-scale farming, out grower Scheme, and contract farming.

RIPAN also said there would  be urgent need to encourage state governments to ease bottlenecks in the processes of acquiring land for large-scale farming of paddy rice.

Specifically,  he said,  “Nigeria’s current border surveillance system should be re-organized to enable the customs and other agencies at the borders, carry out all weather surveillance.

“Modern security equipment such as long-range surveillance drones, video monitors and night vision scopes should be deployed to our border security if they are not currently being used.

“Also, the working conditions and welfare packages/benefits of the Nigeria Custom Service as well as other government agencies at the borders should be reviewed upwards as a strategy to incentivize the officers.”

Among other things,  RIPAN said,  “We hope that the incoming administration will deploy emergence action towards the repair/ expansion irrigation facilities across the country to enable multiple cycle of cultivation.  

“We also hope that the federal and state governments through their ministries of agriculture and rural development will consider better ways to effectively manage and maintain the dams within their purview.

“Indeed, it is will be very beneficial to Nigerian agriculture if they will commence the  de-silting  of the various dams and bodies of water within the country to help provide for the water needed by farmers for irrigation as well as mitigate flooding. 

“Also, the government will need to an emergence intervention on power generation and supply to industries to lessen the burden of huge capital investment in diesel power generation so that finished products can be competitive.

“The government will seriously consider building good road infrastructure especially to rural communities where the farmers mostly reside to enable them transport harvested crops to the market.”

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