Paddy scarcity threatens food security
Fear of food insecurity may worsen in Nigeria, if the present scarcity of paddy, a major raw material for the production of rice persists.
Speaking with journalists, at the weekend, Chairman, Northern Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dalhatu Abubakar, said the development was already affecting millers in the state.
Beside the dearth of the raw material, a larger percentage of integrated rice millers in Kano source paddy at exorbitant price of N400,000 per tonne, from N330,000 in June, 2023.
Abubakar, who is also the Chairman, Al-Hamsad Integrated Rice Mill, lamented the implication of the paddy scarcity, including high price of rice and increase in smuggling of foreign brands.
He stressed that millers were cutting down production from 24 to 12 hours while laying off workers. He called for government’s intervention in the area of mechanisation and assisting the farmers with needed input that enables year-round production.
“Today, hundreds of millers, both integrated and small scale, are in serious dilemma and finding it extremely difficult to break even. It is difficult to sustain production now because of scarcity of paddy. As I speak, I know many millers that have completely closed their factories.”
Those that have yet to close because they still have limited paddy in their reserve cannot operate 24 hours. I have reduced my production to 12 hours because I don’t have paddy. By implication, several workers will be rendered jobless.
“Wherever you see paddy now, you buy it at exorbitant price and you will still be compelled to face high cost of fuel, pay tax and electricity bill. How many factories would survive this hard economy. The only hard way now is the cost of finished rice, which Nigerians will soon face,” Abubakar noted.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in Africa, producing about 8,435,000 tonnes yearly, followed by Egypt, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mali.
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