Association advocates establishment of paddy grading labs for quality rice production
Small and Medium Rice Producers and Processors (SMRPP), an association, has called on government at all levels to establish paddy grading laboratories across the country to spearhead efforts to upgrade paddy seeds.
Mr Tony Muoneke, the President of SMRPP, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
He said that the initiative would boost quality rice production for export.
Muoneke said that for Nigeria to achieve its goal of attaining self-sufficiency in rice production, it needed sufficient amount of quality paddy for processing, which could be achieved via the application of modern technology.
“The processing laboratories, if established, will improve the quality of domestic rice; the quality of paddy is very critical as it would aid efforts to obtain better quality milled rice.
“Some initiatives for the improvement of the quality of paddy by the association are ongoing; the drafting of Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) on paddy grading by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is one of these initiatives.
“Quality paddy grading can be conducted only by the grading laboratories of rice mills with a set of equipment,’’ he said.
Muoneke said SMRPP members had noted that most stakeholders in rice production were still practising the old style of rice farming and harvesting, adding that this had hampered efforts to attain high rice productivity in the country.
“The challenge before now is that most stakeholders were not aware of the NIS draft on paddy grading.
“Hence, all the integrated rice mills in the country graded their paddy differently, using parameters and thresholds based on their industrial convenience and their experience, which were, however, contradictory to the NIS draft.’’
The SMRPP president, therefore, advised Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and small-scale rice millers to disseminate requisite information on paddy grading methods via their clusters so as to enable rice farmers to improve their productivity.
He said that consultations on the initiative were conducted by stakeholders at meetings where they acknowledged that the methods listed in the grading manual should be adopted and used as the approved standard for paddy grading in the country.
Muoneke said that the stakeholders, nonetheless, advised the government to continue to initiate and sustain good policies that would enable rice farmers to benefit maximally from their ventures