The ongoing shortage of paddy, a key ingredient in rice production, could exacerbate concerns about food insecurity in Nigeria.
Dalhatu Abubakar, Chairman of the Northern Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, spoke with journalists over the weekend and stated that the development was already affecting millers in the state.
In addition to the dearth of the raw material, a larger percentage of integrated rice millers in Kano source paddy at an exorbitant price of N400,000 per tonne, up from N330,000 in June 2023.
Abubakar, who is also the Chairman of Al-Hamsad Integrated Rice Mill, lamented the implications of the paddy scarcity, including the high price of rice and the increase in smuggling of foreign brands.
He stressed that millers were cutting down production from 24 to 12 hours, resulting in layoffs of workers.
He called for government intervention in the area of mechanisation and assistance to farmers with the necessary inputs for year-round production.
“Today, hundreds of millers, both integrated and small-scale, are in a serious dilemma and finding it extremely difficult to break even. It is challenging to sustain production now due to the scarcity of paddy. As I speak, I know many millers who have completely closed their factories.
“Those that have not yet closed because they still have limited paddy in their reserves cannot operate for 24 hours. I have reduced my production to 12 hours because I don’t have paddy. By implication, several workers will be rendered jobless.
“Wherever you find paddy now, you have to buy it at an exorbitant price, and you will still be compelled to face the high cost of fuel, pay taxes, and electricity bills. How many factories would survive this difficult economy? The only challenging aspect now is the cost of finished rice, which Nigerians will soon face,” Abubakar noted.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in Africa, producing about 8,435,000 tonnes yearly, followed by Egypt, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Mali.