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Border closure: Local rice varieties now rule markets

Border closure: Local rice varieties now rule markets
  • Dealers re-bag locally processed rice as foreign — Consumers
  • Why price is on the high side — Processors
  • Farmers ready for massive paddy rice production

Locally processed rice is now common in markets and departmental shops, a market survey carried out by Daily Trust recently has shown.

Miva rice, Mama Gold dominate markets in Benue with a 50kg bag of each costing between N16,000 and N18,500.

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In Cross River State, Bansanra rice and Ayade Vitaminised & Nutrient Rice are common in most of the local markets in the state with a 50kg bag sold for N15,500 to N17,000, depending on the market.

Our correspondent in Kano reports that the popular Jamila rice now being bagged is gradually taking the place of foreign rice in the state alongside Umza rice. They both cost N16,000 to N17,500 per 50kg bag also depending on place of purchase.

In Abuja market and some notable stores, Mama Gold, Mama Pride produced by Olam go for N16,000 to N18,000 per 50kg bag, depending on the market. This has been the price since the border closure, it was discovered.

Similarly, brands like Umza from Kano, Bull from WATCO in Argungu (Sokoto State), and other brands have remained at N14,500 to N17,000 depending on the market they are purchased from.

Other local brands like Mas Rice in Gombe, Anambra Rice, Mama Happy Rice in Niger, Ofada Rice, Abakaliki Rice and Igbemo Rice now dominate major markets across the country.

Consumers’ new rush for local rice brands

Daily Trust reports that because of the border closure, the quantum of foreign rice is gradually reducing in both local markets and major stores.

The closure is also forcing the price of the product out of reach of many consumers.

A 50kg bag of Tomato rice, one of the notable foreign rice brands now costs between N20,000 and N22,000 depending on the market while Royal Stallion goes for slightly higher.

The same goes for other foreign rice brands wherever you can find them at the market.

A measure (small mudu) of foreign rice now costs between N700 and N750 compared to the locally processed rice that sells for between N500 and N550, depending on the market and the state.

A consumer in Abuja, Madam Rose Isah, attributed her new love for locally processed rice to the price disparity, saying she can save as much as N200 per measure if she buys the locally processed rice.

A rice retailer at Wuse market told Daily Trust that many residents now patronise local rice as the prices of the foreign varieties were going higher by the week.

Dealers re-bagging locally processed rice as foreign – Consumers

Consumers and local rice merchants in Katsina State have decried how some rice mills and foreign rice dealers were purchasing and allegedly re-bagging locally processed rice which they resell as foreign at exorbitant prices.

Border closure has seriously affected the importation of foreign rice into the country, a situation that has increased demand for the locally produced variety, especially with the proliferation of modern rice mills across the country.

Farouk Abdu, a local rice dealer, said besides the newly established modern mills that were purchasing paddy rice in bulk, some foreign rice dealers have resorted to mopping up locally processed rice and re-bagging it to be sold at high price as foreign rice.

“If you go to Dandume, Kafur and Bakori, you will see how those rice dealers are mopping up the locally milled rice which they transport to Kano, where they just sieve and re-bag it as foreign one,” he said.

Farouk added that the development has caused the market price of the locally processed rice to skyrocket.

“This year we started selling the locally processed rice at N490 per measure and 100kg at N19,500, but now because of high demand, a bag costs N28,000 and a measure N700, the price that normally comes after the harvest period, which is around March,” Farouk also said.

He said many trailers load local rice on weekly basis out of Bakori, Kafur and Dandume, the three major local rice markets in the state.

Alhaji Abdullahi Namairo, one of the dealers purchasing locally processed rice, told this reporter that because of high demand for rice generally, locally established rice mills could not meet up with the increasing demand of the produce hence they resorted to purchasing the already locally processed rice, which they sieve and polish before it is bagged and sold as made in Nigeria rice.

“Unlike how it was widely speculated, we add value to the produce we buy before we sell it as Nigerian rice, not foreign rice,” said Namairo.

He added that even those with penchant for foreign rice have no option now than to buy the local one because the foreign one is now either scarce or costly in the market.

Daily Trust noticed that there was bulk purchase of locally processed rice in Katsina markets but could not ascertain whether the produce was being re-bagged and sold as foreign rice as alleged by some merchants and consumers; especially that the ones purchased were being transported to Kano.

Usman Sani, a rice farmer, said the complaints came mainly from consumers and some dealers but farmers were celebrating the high cost of the produce.

“Rice farmers this year are happy because of the high demand of both paddy and locally processed rice in the market. It has reached the extent that farmers are being followed to their farms to buy paddy rice at not less than N10,000 depending on the variety,” said Sani.

Why prices are on the high side now -Processor

In the last couple of weeks, the prices of paddy rice have changed twice. This caused fear among processors that the price of milled rice may further go up.

Although the wet season harvest has just commenced, there is high demand for the product at the moment as buyers go after those who have already harvested.

Daily Trust can confirm that this is the case in Doma area of Nasarawa State which is home to Olam Nigeria, one of the biggest producers and processors, where this reporter visited.

“Two weeks ago, I sold a 100kg of paddy at N11,000, surprisingly a week later I sold 12 bags at N14,000 each and the buyer came here (the village),” a farmer, Dauda Bako told Daily Trust in Doma.

However, a paddy buyer, Ibrahim Maishinkafa, said processors are rushing for the paddy in anticipation of the yuletide season – Christmas and New Year.

“This rush will certainly trigger price rise,” he said, adding that “as more harvest hit the market, we expect some stability”.

In an earlier interview with Daily Trust, the Managing Director, Labana Rice Mills Ltd, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, Alhaji Abdullahi Idris Zuru explained the rise in price.

“To be honest with you, the price has increased to some extent because the millers went to get paddy from the farmers and the farmers, knowing that the borders have been closed, and the millers will come for it, increased their price. And only a few of them have it because some had earlier given up the business because the price was not encouraging.

“A ton of rice which was sold at N100,000 is now about N120,000 to N122,000. If the farmers are encouraged and returned to farm based on this policy and produce, the price will crash.”

He was optimistic that the millers will process more and with additional mills coming on board, the price will come down.

“The current price is just because  the (border closure) policy just came into force,” Alhaji Abdullahi said.

Farmers ready for massive paddy rice production

The farmers are optimistic of a promising future as the National President of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, told Daily Trust in a phone interview.

Alhaji Aminu said farmers are already planning big for the forthcoming dry season as they are targeting to cultivate one million hectares with an average of seven tons. The wet season harvest has already begun across the country.

“We had planned and proposed to government for this border closure to cultivate a minimum of one million hectares by the forthcoming dry season. We expect to get a minimum of seven million metric tons of rice; and what we consume in Nigeria is between 7 to 8 million metric tons per annum.

“So you can see in this one production circle, which is the dry season, that 7 million can be cultivated and we can do this three times in a year. So we are hoping that the commodity will be available and affordable,” he said.

Goronyo also said they were working closely with the processors to support the federal government to make sure that it succeeds in its self-sufficiency drive.

He reiterated that the current policy is already incentivizing the production as many people are already warming up for dry season production, adding that as more farmers go into production and millers off-take, the prices would come down.

Meanwhile, despite the increase in the prices of paddy in the last few weeks, the prices of the finished products have been stable in the market, Daily Trust gathered.

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