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October 17, 2010

Nigerian farmers call for freeze in rice importation

Alhaji Abubakar Wodi, the President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), has called for a freeze in rice importation to save local production.

Wodi said this was necessary because rice farmers in the country have been experiencing glut in paddy rice in various markets due to importation.

Wodi said that more than 75 per cent of the paddy rice produced locally had remained unsold, adding the latest report from Edo indicated that the price of paddy rice had fallen drastically.

"RIFAN chairmen have been phoning me to complain about the glut and the price fall in Edo and Sokoto where a 50kg bag of paddy rice is being sold at N2,000 and N2,500 respectively, as against N 6,500," Wodi said.

He said that for a country, which consumes rice more than any other staple food, concerted efforts must be made to address the problem urgently. Wodi called on the three tiers of government to join hands with RIFAN to put in place intervention measures to add value to production, processing, marketing and consumption of rice.

"If the situation does not improve, how do you want the farmers to recover their money and be encouraged to go back to rice farming?," he asked.

Wodi also called on the government to review the guidelines for rice importation to encourage increased rice production, processing and marketing in Nigeria.

He urged the Federal Government to review the N23 million contract for small-scale rice processing centres, awarded in 2009, to give way to large-scale rice processing centres in the country. He said the review would also encourage massive production of paddy rice by farmers.

It would be recalled that the government had awarded the contract for the establishment of 17 rice processing centres in 12 states of the federation.

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