The scarcity of paddy rice, which is processed into finished rice, has sparked fear of food insecurity in Kano, as rice now sells at N40,000 per bag.

Before the scarcity, in Kano, rice was sold at less than N30,000. However, checks by our correspondent show that the commodity even sells for as much as N42,000 per bag in some areas.

Rice millers in Kano, who initially bought a ton of paddy for N330,000 in June, now buy the same quantity at N400,000 to meet the high demand.

It is feared that the rise in the cost of local rice may give rise to a demand for foreign rice, nullifying the relative success the Federal Government has recorded in local rice production in the last eight years.

Speaking with journalists on the ugly trend at the weekend, Chairman, Northern Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Alh. Dalhatu Abubakar revealed the development is already affecting millers’ production in the state.

Abubakar, who is also the Chairman, Al-Hamsad Integrated Rice Mill, lamented the resultant implication of the paddy scarcity would, among other things, include an increase in the price of rice and an increase in the activities of smugglers.

He stressed that several millers had reduced production from 24 to 12 hours while laying off factory workers. He called for government intervention in mechanization and assisting the farmers with needed input to enable all-year-round production.

“Today, hundreds of millers, both the integrated and small scale, are in a serious dilemma and finding it extremely difficult to break even. It is difficult to sustain production now because of the scarcity of paddy. As I speak, I know many millers that have completely closed their factories.

“And those that are yet to close because they still have limited paddy in their reserve cannot operate 24 hours. Like me, 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 an exorbitant price, and you will still be compelled to face the high cost of fuel, pay tax, 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 Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Nigeria is presently the largest producer of rice in Africa, producing about 8,435,000 tons annually, followed by Egypt, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mali.



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