The chairman, Northern Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture Alhaji Dalhatu Abubakar, has raised the alarm over scarcity of raw materials currently forcing millers to shut down.
He also expressed fear that food insecurity may hit its worst level in Nigeria if the present scarcity of paddy, a major raw material for the production of finished rice, persists.
Speaking on Monday in Kano, Dalhatu Abubakar who is also the Chairman, Al-Hamsad Integrated Rice Mill,also said that the implication of paddy scarcity would forced increase in the price of finish rice, which would further mitigate activities of smugglers.
He added that Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Nigeria is presently the largest producer of rice in Africa, with about 8,435,000 tonnes annually, followed by Egypt, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mali.
He therefore called on the Federal Government’s intervention on the area of mechanisation and assisting the farmers with needed input that would enable all year round production.
Alhaji Abubakar disclosed that several millers have cut down production from 24 to 12 hours while laying off factory workers.
“Today hundreds of millers both the 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.
He disclosed that “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.”
Besides the dearth of the raw materials, larger percentage of integrated Rice millers in Kano are presently sourcing paddy at N400,000 per tonne, the same quantity previously sold for N330,000 in June in order to meet the high market demands,”he noted
“Whereever you see paddy now, you buy it at exorbitant prize and you will still be compelled to face high cost of Fuel, pay tax, electricity bill etc. How many factory would survive this hard economy. The only hard way now is, the cost of finished rice which Nigerians will soon face,” Abubakar noted.
Alhaji Abubakar further disclosed that this alone might lead to increase in the cost of local finished product and if allowed, will give rise to demand for foreign rice thereby crippling the relative success the Federal Government has recorded in local rice security in the last eight years.