The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has raised alarm over the contamination of local rice with stones by fraudulent characters in the sector.
The group’s Deputy National President, Mr Segun Atho, raised the alarm in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Atho said that in a bid to discredit the quality of locally processed rice and fuel the smuggling of imported and expired rice, these impostors add stones to local rice that they buy and then resell to the public.
“In terms of eradicating stones from our local rice, we are gradually getting there. However, there are some people with dubious character who buy Nigerian rice and put stones in them.
“Currently, most local rice farmers have automated machines, de-stoners and rice polishers to make sure they eliminate stone in local rice.
“But some people are still bent on contaminating local rice; let them continue to play pranks, once our farmers are well equipped, these charlatans will fizzle away before you know everybody will realise the truth.
“My advice is that why don’t these people tap into this programme that is ongoing, they can uptake, and they can buy and sell the rice,” Atho told NAN.
While condemning these dubious acts by the fraudsters, the farmer urged them to tap into the current development in the sector as he drummed for more support from the government in rice cultivation.
“It is totally wrong to buy local rice and add stones in them and give false publicity of our local rice when we have de-stoners and polishers in the country. These charlatans should key into the system.
According to him, RIFAN caters for small-holder farmers who cultivate between one to five hectares of rice.
“We are glad with the latest pronouncement of the minister of agriculture that the government is going to make more tractors available for local farmers.
“We want them to go ahead to make sure that we have more tractors in the country for rice farmers, that will help us prepare for cultivation.’’
Atho called for government’s support in providing incentives including machines, harvesters, and other equipment needed for rice cultivation to go smoothly.
“So, we appeal to the government to help us go mechanised; the government has been trying through its Anchor Borrowers Scheme but we still want them to do more through the mechanisation,” he told NAN.
Atho added that a lot of people want to go into farming but were inhibited by challenges including the quest for white collar jobs.
Consequently, the Rice farmers Association’s leader urged people to diversify into farming but made a case for machines and equipment to be accessible to ameliorate their distress when they come into rice cultivation.
“If the tractors, harvesters, pickers and other machines are available, then we will have sufficient food security for the country and can also sustain it,” he added. (NAN)