The Chairman of Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), Peter Dama has said that the current policies in the rice value chain needs to be sustained by the government in order to encourage rice farmers and millers to produce more.
He said if government does otherwise and allow importation rice which are highly subsidized by government of exporting to continue, then the locally produced rice may not be able to compete favourably.
Dama who made this known during while speaking with Nigerian Tribune, said power which is critical in food production needs to be improved in order the reduce the cost of milling rice.
“If the policies being adopted by the government is sustained, and the sustenance of that policy will encourage rice millers, it will encourage rice farmers and it will encourage rice merchants to patronize locally produced rice.
“But the moment they allow any of those exports coming into the country you definitely know that those ones are heavily subsidized by their home government and it will compete against our own efforts.
“But if Nigerian government sustains what it has done I believe and I want to assure you that Nigerian rice farmers and millers are really going to ensure food sufficiency in rice production”, he said.
On the way forward on rice production, he said government should ensure that farmers get their inputs on time, and power situation should be improved in order to reduce cost of production.
“I think what the government needs to do at this stage is to ensure that rice inputs are being produced or being supplied adequately to the farmers as at when due.
“In addition, I believe if the government put in place properly the production cost, like electricity, because that is where the cost is coming from, where there is no light, people will depend on diesel, and diesel is very expensive that it will lead to high cost of production.
“But the moment we have adequate power supply, I want to assure you that Nigerians who are involved in that sector, and not just in rice production, but in all the economic sector, it will boost the economy and it will boost more production. So, we appeal and still appealing for the government to do more in that sector”, he said.
Speaking on government support for large scale farmers, Dama said the government has a package called Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme which allows farmers to access about N500 million to N5 billion loan facilities.
“Apart from the Anchor Borrowers Program, government has put in place what is called Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, where you can go when you have all your documents, you can get up to N500 million to N5 billion loan.
“The scheme is already there, the things are already on ground, you just need to put your papers accordingly.
“I want to also inform you that recently my Association was able to meet with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and talked about extending monetary facilities to small scale millers a land large scale millers, and provisions are being made for people to be able to obtain funds to procure paddy, equipment at a very minimal rate of 9 per cent.
“So, as you can see, government had already put it in place, it is left for you as an individual to be able to put your papers together”, he added.
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