By Stephen Ubanna
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said the price of a 50 kg bag of local paddy rice, will drop soon. He had said that the growing food production in the country, particular,’’ rice paddy farming, will eventually force down the prices of food items, thus making it more affordable for all’’.
Aminu Goronyo, President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RFAN, may have shocked Nigerians when he revealed at the launching of the Abuja 13 rice pyramids at the Abuja International trade Fair Complex that ‘’more than 99% of the paddy rice that had been produced for the year was already with the farmers across the country awaiting to be pushed into the market while the 50kg bags in the 13 pyramids will be sold to further ease and augment production.
The Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, would not agree with the Katsina state born Nigerian President that there is anything like 13 pyramids of paddy rice produced by Nigerian rice farmers. A Statement signed by the party Publicity Secretary Debo Ologunnagba had said that ‘’it was allegedly imported and rebagged as locally produced, just to create an impression of a boost in local production of rice under his close watch’’.
The Party had queried the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, that if there is a boost in the local production of rice as the Party would want Nigerians to believe, how come the price of a 50kg bag of rice has not come down but continues to soar from about N8,0000.00 per bag which the PDP, had handed over to it in 2015 to about the current price of N30,000.00 per bag today.
Abba Dambata, a member of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, IPAN, Kano Chapter, was said to have told local rice marketers that ‘’there is no way they can sell a ‘50kg’’bag of rice below N23,000.00’’ , stressing that ‘’the cost of production is still so high for now’’. Given an insider information of the cost of production of rice , he noted that between April ,2021 and now, a ton of paddy rice seedlings , which used to cost N180,000 had increased to over N225,000.00. He stated that the high rate of Foreign Exchange and the difficulties in sourcing same for the maintenance of the industrial machines well as the hike in price of diesel, have not helped matters.
He further stated that Godwin Emefiele led Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had made the situation worse by withdrawing its Agro Fund Loan in 2020, without warning to the rice farmers to prepare for it, thus making the rice Processors to seek for an alternative source of funding. Informed sources told The Magazine that some of the rice Processors who could approach the Commercial Banks, borrow at 20%,22% or 25% interest rate respectively depending on the bank.
Based on the information obtained from the CBN/ Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, the Katsina state born Nigerian President, had said that ‘’rice production in Nigerian has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually’’, meaning that the country no longer need the Asian countries of Thailand produced Parboiled rice and the Indian produced Agricultural par boiled rice, which are imported through the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou,and Bollore port , also in Republic of Benin and other ports in the West and Central African African sub regions, but smuggled into the Nigerian markets through the various illegal routes across the country.
Abba Dambata, a member of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, IPAN, Kano Chapter, had told local rice marketers that ‘’there is no way they can sell a ‘50kg’’bag of rice below N23,000.00 , stressing that the cost of production is so high for now. Given an insider information of the cost of production of the 50kg bag of rice , he noted that between April ,2021 and now, a ton of paddy rice , which used to cost N180,000 had increased to over N225,000.00. He noted that the high rate of Foreign Exchange and the difficulties in sourcing same for the maintenance of industrial machines a well as the hike in price of deisel, have not helped matters.
Recall that Buhari had said that prior to the introduction of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, APB, the average rice production in the country between 199 and 2015 was less than 4 metric tons annually. He had attributed the increased paddy rice production ‘’to the APB, adoption of high seeldlings, quality inputs and best farming practices. According to him, the improved rice seedlings have helped the rice farmers in no small measure in ensuring the country’s self-sufficiency in rice production. There is no gain saying the fact that the rice seedlings are disease-resistant and of about 5 metric tons per hectare, compared with the traditional average yield of 1.5 metric tons. This may have informed why the country have increased its rice paddy production under the Buhari Administration, as it currently have over 50 standard and integrated milling plants across the country.
The Nigerian President believes that the production of the 13 rice paddy pyramids, could not have been possible without the CBN, resuscitating the Nigerian Commodity Exchange following his approval to do so He opined that the approval had been given to the apex bank the optimism in ‘’the hope that farmers can have ready buyers of their produce, thereby resolving the current logistical challenge of moving their produce from the farms to the markets’’.
Indeed, with the successful achievement in the rice paddy production in the country may have encouraged Emefiele, the CBN, governor to seek the approval of the retired Army General to Commence the wheat value chain, which informed sources had told The Magazine produces between five to six million metric tons per annum.