Agric stakeholders are condemning the re-bagging and rebranding of locally produced rice in foreign bags sold at premium prices by criminally-minded elements.
Identifying this trend as one of the major challenges daunting rice production in Anambra State, Executive Director of Wisdom Pack Anambra Rice Processing Company, Mr Edwin Erebe, called for sanctions on the criminals.
Erebe who said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Awka, said the activities of the unpatriotic people were a major challenge limiting the growth of the rice industry.
Erebe said: “They print our bags and package any kind of rice full of stones and sell to unsuspecting consumers. We have complained to the state government officials about this but nothing has been done”
The ED further identified the high cost of production, inputs and machinery as other constraints facing the commodity.
“In a bid to reduce labour cost, we discovered that procuring a locally fabricated rice par-boiler equipment cost as high as N35 million, while sorter machines cost about N20 million.
“There are expensive machines in the rice milling industry for large-scale production but we cannot afford them,” he said.
He also expressed concerns over the high cost of chemicals, fertilisers, labour and inputs despite several Federal and State governments’ interventions to subsidise the inputs and boost rice production in the country.
Erebe, however, noted that these challenges have made rice production expensive and more difficult, adding that it could increase the price of rice next year.
He, therefore, advised the government to develop rice production settlements and boost support for farmers to ensure the sufficiency of rice in the country.
“What will make a nation rich is when the lowest income earner in the country can afford three squares meal in the right proportion and a balanced diet”.
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