In what many may regard as good news, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) have said that rice, a popularly staple food in Nigeria, will sell at N6,000 per 50kg bag within the next few months.
National President of RIFAN, Aminu Goronyo said during a meeting with Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, in Abuja on Wednesday, that it is imperative for the association, which is comprised of farmers, to reduce the price of locally produced rice from N18,000 per 50kg bag, to N6,000 in the months to come
Goronyo said although RIFAN and RIPAN had agreed to fix the current price of 50 kg bag of rice at between N13, 000 and N13, 500, it is certain that the price would further crash to N6, 000 within the next few months if there was bumper harvests and low cost of production, and if the Federal Government fulfills it’s pledge to support rice farmers.
“This is just the beginning. The actual price will still come down because we are expecting a bumper harvest this year; we have sat down with the millers and agreed that we will work together for the interest of Nigerians.
“At one time, people were buying a bag of rice at the cost of N18, 000 but they are now buying it at between N13,000 and N15,000. The price is coming down.
“In the next few months, God willing, the price of a 50kg bag of rice will come down to N6, 000. It is achievable, it will be a reality,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Mohammed Abubakar, also said that the associations had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to slash the prices of both paddy and processed rice.
“We have agreed at N110, 000 per tonne of paddy. In the market, rice will come around N13, 000 to N13, 500 per 50kg bag.
“Before now, we were buying paddy at N140, 000 and N150, 000 per tonne and we are selling our rice at N16,000 per 50kg bag.
“If this MoU works, we hope to sell a bag of rice at N13, 000 to N13, 500, depending on where you are in the country,’’ Mr. Abubakar said.
Speaking during the meeting, Mr. Ogbeh commended the associations for their decision to slash the price of locally produced rice.
The minister noted that the biggest challenge facing rice farmers in the country was smuggling, and that the move would aid efforts to stamp out rice smuggling into the country.
“Let me express the appreciation of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to both farmers and millers because nobody can calculate what you have done to rescue our country that was very close to disaster.
“What you have done is going to save us from a lot of difficulties. What we want to promise you is that we will help you ease the burden of rice farming.
“Last year, we procured 80,000 threshers; this year, we will procure another 2,500 threshers and we are bringing in small reapers for distribution to rice farmers.
“The equipment will enable them to cut the rice, thresh it, winnow it and put it in sacks; It will take away all the stress which makes rice farming very difficult so that you can keep to the price of N110, 000 per tonne of paddy that we agreed.
“If we are able to keep these prices stable and we are able to contain smuggling, I hope you will keep us informed when there are any challenges confronting you because no country can claim to be strong if its citizens are hungry.
“Let everybody know that the price of rice for this Christmas will be good enough for us to eat rice, chicken and fish.
“We just can’t afford hunger here. The smuggler will be the beneficiary of any violation of the price agreement you have reached,’’ Mr. Ogbeh added.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria customs service, area controller, Ogun area command, Waindu Multafu, said that, due to the high level of rice smuggling, “There is no place in our warehouse to put rice again.. Though, we are making efforts to dispose the ones we have in the warehouse”.
“Rice has become a staple food. It is the most smuggled item because of the financial benefits accruing to the smugglers. “People smuggle rice to avoid payment of Customs duty”, Multafu said.