‘How we process rice without stones or sand’
Mr Amos Fakunle is a manager with one of the rice processing companies based in Ibadan, Oyo State. He spoke with FEMI IBIROGBA during an exhibition by farmers, processors and input suppliers to mark the year’s World Food Day. Excerpts:
Nigerians were not eating local rice as a result of stones and sands before now. Do you think they are responding positively to local brands now?
Yes. We are Nigerians and we have studied the problems associated with local rice and we also know the quality of foreign rice. The knowledge of the two has made us to strike a balance in quality. And the taste of Nigerians is changing. We add neither chemicals nor preservatives.
How do you remove stones?
When farmers harvest paddies, we buy and first of all, we destone and wash. After washing, we soak and after soaking, we parboil. After parboiling, we dry. We do not wait for sun to dry. We use a mechanical dryer. After drying, we mill. After milling, we destone again mechanically.
Now that smuggling of rice has reduced or stopped, can Nigerian farmers produce enough rice, minding that we use mainly rain-fed agriculture?
There is irrigation agriculture in Nigeria too. Nigerian farmers are able if the government will provide the right atmosphere of security. Then they should provide improved varieties of seeds. The road network and electricity generation are important too. When farmers produce, processors will buy and Nigerians will buy because we have decided to look inward.
Let me tell you that Nigerian rice is more nutritious than imported rice. They use chemicals to bleach the rice to look white, but the Nigerian rice is not bleached. We process as the rice comes; no colouring or bleaching.
Are you urging Nigerians to change their taste?
They have to. From our experience of producing and consuming local rice, morbidity has reduced by about 80 per cent among the staff. We are all eating Nigerian rice.
Why has your company delved into rice manufacturing? Is it because of the new food policy?
Sincerely yours, before the closure borders or forex restriction on food imports, we had started production of rice. Going into production is a passion. When that passion is developed in the investor, and other staffers, the idea could come into a reality. So, processing rice is a passion of our chairman.
Rice processing requires a lot more than other crops you can think of. The desire to add value to rice, help in the reduction of food import and create more jobs led us into rice processing.Eating the Nigerian rice is becoming part of our lives. We have stopped eating imported rice. There are problems associated with eating imported rice.
No comments yet