Rice Millers Fault Middlemen for Rising Cost

Rice Millers in Gombe State has blamed the rising cost of rice in the country on the activities of middlemen.

The millers linked the pressure on rice demand to the nefarious activities of middlemen who were alleged to have bought paddy and stored it in their warehouses to the detriment of Nigerians.

Paddy is a major raw material used in the processing of rice.

The millers described the situation as frustrating and called on the federal government to look into the situation to avoid more price increases.

The Production Manager of Lula Rice, Mr. Auwal Manu, said that the price of rice had almost doubled within the last three weeks because of the unavailability of paddy brand rice.

According to Manu, paddy is scarce and there is a lot of pressure on the little available in the market because middlemen have during the 2023 harvest mopped up paddy brands and refused to release them.

This, according to him, has led to increase in price of rice as those who have paddy now determine the price they want their commodity sold.

“This has affected and halted production in our company because paddy is the major raw material for rice processing venture. A bag of paddy now is about N50,000 which cannot give you 50kg of processed rice, so how do one continue business and make profit?

“Before now, a bag of paddy was sold for between N15,000 and N20,000 but now it goes for N47,000 upwards. Weekly, we used to process at least three truckloads of rice which is 1,800 bags of 50kg rice but today for the past two months, we have halted production,” he said.

Another miller at Gombe Main Market, Mr. Yusuf Abdullahi, said that many of the middlemen were already getting ready to invade villages to mop up paddy, which had been cultivated by farmers during the dry season.

Abdullahi said that such action would worsen the current situation, hence the need for punitive measures against hoarding because “it increases hardship and worsens unemployment status in the country.

“For now, we are no longer milling because no paddy, and many of our workers are now at home without jobs, it has never been this bad. The government must go tough against hoarders else they will create a food crisis in spite that there is food in this country,” he said.

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