The President of Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Muhammad Auwal has said that most farmers in the rural areas are still using the traditional method for rice harvesting and processing.
Speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Mr. Auwal said this outdated method of processing rice has allowed stones and other foreign materials to be seen in the rice even during sales in the market. This low standard process has made Nigerian’s local rice unable to compete favourably with its foreign counterparts.
“After producing, when they come for harvest, it is always a problem because they are using the traditional method. That is why we find stones, chaff in our rice and other commodities. If it is not totally cleaned, moisture is not controlled, we cannot match standard to international best practice like foreign milled rice imported into the country”.
Most rice purchased from local farmers do not have moisture control levels, Some farmers dry their rice on a bare floor which adds stones to it, so that is why you commonly find some of our rice with stones and other foreign materials which is not as clean as foreign rice.
“About 70 per cent of the rice that we consume in local areas is produced by local processors who are lagging behind on facilities and equipments which will enable them produced to compete with foreign brands.
He, however, stated that PRIDAN which was set up in 2013 is committed to its mandate which is to standardize paddy rice production in the country so that international best practices are used while harvesting and processing rice. “The essence of setting up the Association is to standardize paddy rice production in the country and other commodities because 95 per cent of our local farmers or smallholder farmers are using local means of harvesting their produce, some are using drums, tarpaulin and sickle.
“We are looking for fund from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) so that we can buy enough paddy, process it, and set up the milling machine because we want to complete the value chain”, he noted.
Mr. Auwal added that the Federal Government had consequently set up 25 centers across the country, where rice paddy could be cleaned, and the moisture content regulated in order to have a standard finished product. That is why the Federal government seek investors like PRIDAN to set up 25-grain centers across the country as a pilot project.