Food scarcity’ll get worse next year if FG neglects rice processors –  Stakeholders 

Stakeholders in the rice processing sub-sector are worried that the current biting food scarcity in the country would get worse next year unless the government of President Bola Tinubu properly engage rice processors in its policy actions.

They expressed concerns that it is not in the interest of the federal government to encourage importation of rice as it poses a big risk to the multi-billion naira investments in rice production by local rice processors, adding that it also results in job exportation to the countries exporting rice to Nigeria and job loss to our country.

This was made known by their representative, Mohammed Abba Liman, a rice processor and an executive member of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), in a chat with journalists in Abuja Tuesday.

Alhaji Liman said, “government needs to provide serviceable loans to real and identifiable rice processors in each state of the federation”.

He highlighted the need for the federal government “to interface with RIPAN members and form a strong synergy with other critical stakeholders if it wants to tackle food crisis, if not, next year, the situation might be worse than what we are currently experiencing.

“What rice processors need is a well structured loan scheme accessible to every registered and recognised rice processors in every state of the federation and not the type of politicised Anchor Borrowers Scheme where both real rice processors and ghost farmers took loans for wrong reasons.

“Don’t forget too that, Nigerians prefer consumption of locally processed and produced rice as it is more healthy than imported rice which contains toxic preservative chemical that is dangerous to health,” he said.

“The security agencies such as the military, Department of State Service, Police and Civil Defence should be made to provide adequate security in the farms to prevent herders and criminal elements from interfering with the targeted objective of the scheme, just like the Special Task Force established by the Federal Ministry of Solid Mineral Development.”

The RIPAN member said “all the farms should be well secured by security agents. This will enable us cultivate all season rice farming, using irrigation system and dry farming season under an effective supervision and monitoring.

“We can assure Mr. President that if this suggestion is well considered and implemented, prices can be well regulated and the price of one bag of rice can drop drastically to between N45, 000, N40, 000 or even less.”