Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has affirmed the quality of locally processed rice, which it says has attained a level of perfection.
“We have gained a certain level of perfection in local rice processing,’’ RIFAN’s National Deputy Chairman, Mr Segun Atho, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
He said that Nigerian processed rice could stand at par with its foreign counterparts owing to the attainment of quality in processing, de-stoning and polishing.
According to him, local rice farmers now have modern rice processing equipment.
“In recent times we have done very well in improving the packaging, processing and polishing of locally cultivated rice.
“We now have available to local rice farmers, modern processing equipment. The Lagos State Government has also established a 32,000-ton rice polishing company in Ikorodu to help rice farmers.
“We can confidently depend on our locally processed rice to be stone-free. In the nearest future we also aim to regularise the price and make it more affordable,’’ he said.
According to Atho, individual farmers may need to aggregate their rice harvests and the association will forward to the mill and the rice will be bought by government as an up-taker.
He said the association aims at promoting peasant rice farmers and boost their productivity.
“Farmers may not be able to access the factory individually but as an association, we aggregate the harvests and let the government up-take from us while we go back to our farms.
“We are doing well in the cultivation and processing of local rice presently and the sky is our limit.
“RIFAN’s aim is centered at promoting peasant rice farmers to mobilise them and ensure good returns for their efforts,’’ Atho said.
The national deputy chairman also told NAN that the association planned to promote commercial export of locally-processed rice.
“We currently have the capacity to export our locally-grown and processed rice.
“We are working hand-in-hand with exporters registered by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and most of them have registered with us to export Nigerian rice.
“About four weeks ago, we visited the Republic of Benin to meet with the Stallion Rice president to begin the export of Nigerian rice so as to discourage foreign rice imports.
“Cotonou is not actually the importer of foreign rice. It is Nigerians that import rice to Benin Republic and smuggle same through Nigerian borders,’’ he said. (NAN)