Rice processor urges more support for rice farmers
A rice processor, Mr Hassan Sheshi, has called on the Federal Government to assist rice farmers in the country with more intervention programmes to enable them to increase their productivity.
Sheshi, the General Manager of Onyx Rice Mill Limited, Bida in Niger, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday that most rice processors were currently operating below installed capacity because of the scarcity of paddy.
“Federal Government should support rice farmers with more intervention programmes so as to enable them to produce more paddy for rice mills across the country,’’ he said.
According to him, the Onyx Rice Mill is operating below its installed annual capacity of 16,000 tonnes due to inadequate paddy from local growers.
Sheshi said that the mill, which was established in 2012, was just managing to produce about 9,000 tonnes per annum.
“We are currently producing 9,000 tonnes of rice per annum instead of our full capacity of 16,000 tonnes.
“This is below our installed capacity but we are not getting enough supply of paddy,’’ he said.
Sheshi said that that the mill was initially producing between 5,000 tonnes and 6,000 tonnes per annum before the introduction of some intervention programmes by federal and state governments as well as some multinational agencies.
He listed some of the interventions as IFAD/VCDP (International Fund for Agricultural Development/ Value Chain Development Programme), the agricultural programme of Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Development Agency) and Anchor Borrowers Programme.
He said that his company had been buying paddy from farmers at between N155 and N165 per kilogramme due to the shortage of supply.
He also said that the rice processing mill was contending with the increasing cost production.
“We face the challenge of running generator for 24 hours during production,’’ he said, urging the government to make pragmatic efforts to improve the power supply so as to ensure food security.
Sheshi said that the unit cost of production in the mill was N17,000 per 5okg. bag of rice, adding that it was, however, selling the commodity on a wholesale basis.
He, however, noted that marketers from Edo, Benue, Akwa Ibom and Rivers had been patronising the company’s rice.
“Our rice is one of the best milled rice in the country; it doesn’t have stones and other impurities.
“The standard of our rice is comparable to the international standard, it is nutritious because we don’t store it for long and we don’t use any form of preservatives either,’’ he said.
Sheshi appealed to government to carry the millers along in all its rice development projects, while ensuring the proper coordination of all the intervention programmes aimed at boosting rice cultivation and production.
NAN reports that Onyx Rice Mill Ltd., located in Badeggi, Bida Local Government Area of Niger, is a private rice mill which began operations in 2013.
NAN reports that the Federal Government, in November 2016, announced that it was facilitating the establishment of additional 40 large-scale rice mills as part of efforts to attain self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018.
Chief Audu Ogbe, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who made the announcement at a workshop in Abuja, said that the Integrated Rice Mills (IRMs) of the ministry had significantly increased the rice milling capacity of the country.