Rice farmers task South-West governors on commercial cultivation
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), has urged governors in the South-West zone to cultivate rice in commercial quantities to reduce the price of the commodity in the country.
Mr Sakin Agbayewa, the Deputy Chairman AFAN, Lagos State, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
Agbayewa said commercial cultivation of rice in the zone would reduce the cost of transporting the commodity from other parts of the country.
He added that rice remained a huge revenue-generation opportunity for state governments to explore.
Agbayewa said the governors should utilise all unoccupied land in the region for rice cultivation.
He explained that commercial farming of the crop would boost their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), increase production, create jobs for women and youths, as well as promote food security.
Agbayewa also said that though, rice was being cultivated in some South-West states by private companies and subsistent farmers, more was still needed to be done to become self-sufficient.
He said that producing rice within the region would reduce the cost of transportation and other expenses, thereby bringing down the price of 50kg rice, which cost between N37,000 and N40,000.
According to him, the truth is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Finance should begin to see rice as a source of IGR for the country.
“If they plant rice, harvest it and mill it and package it, there is an existing market already in the zone to market and sell it.
“This way, you will bring down the price of rice because you have reduced your overhead cost if you are buying from other parts of the country.
“The cost of transportation, diesel, insecurity, inter-state union ticket, illegal fees being collected at different states and local checkpoints, as well as security levy, will be reduced.
“All these levies will thereby reduce the market price of the commodity.
“The reason why rice is still expensive in spite of the local production is because majority of the rice in the South-West are coming from the northern and eastern part of the country.
“If you consider the overhead cost of transporting rice from Kebbi, Taraba, Ebonyi and Enugu states down to Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo then people will realise why rice is still expensive,” he said.
Agbayewa said that the governors in the South-West should come together and cultivate rice in their various states and bring it down to Lagos to feed the Imota Rice Mill recently inaugurated by the president.
He added that having the largest rice mill in Lagos, was “a gamer” and would transform the economy of the neighbouring states if properly harnessed.
“Any investment now in the rice value chain is good for any government with good IGR drive.
“They will make their investment back in a matter of few years if done in commercial quantity. That is why AFAN is advocating that we must produce our rice locally.
“Once you are producing, you are creating employment for farmers, logistic companies, marketers, sack producing industry, packaging company, printers, haulage, storage and many more.
“The rice value chain is very huge that’s why we are urging the government to cultivate rice in commercial quantity and own at state level and boost their IGR,” he said.
Agbayewa urged Nigerians to continue to patronise made-in-Nigeria rice as it contained nutrients that was good for the body.
“Locally produced rice is more nutritious than all these foreign rice being smuggled into the country.
“Local rice is fresh and straight from the farm to the milling plant, to market and to the table of the consumers.