The Chairman of Abakaliki Rice, Ebonyi Region, Hon. Joseph Nnunu has charged the federal government to make agricultural infrastructure readily available and accessible to farmers to boost food supply and provide more competitive source of incomes for Nigerians.
According to Hon. Nnunu, the major challenge we face in this sector is unavailability of agricultural infrastructure such as tractors, parboiling machine, drying machine, access roads, boreholes to mention just a few.
“We are appealing to the federal government for their aid. This is one major reasons that the cost of buying foreign rice is cheaper that ours. Government should encourage exporting our locally made product like the Abakaliki Rice by providing them easy access to agricultural infrastructure and place an outright ban on the importation of foreign rice in the country.’’
Nnunu who he applauded the effort of the federal government in conjunction with United Nations to encourage more Nigerians to embark on farming in order to reduce high rate of scarcity of food, averred that ‘‘farmers are not meeting up with the high demand of our products by consumers due to lack of modern machines. This has led to a low turnout of agricultural output and accounts for the relatively high cost of local rice compared to foreign ones.’’
In the same vein, Managing Director of Ainotrans Energy, Mr. Innocent Mbey,who insisted that that rice milling is capital- intensive said that rice farmers need aid from the Federal government in the provision of the necessary machines for the production of Abakaliki rice.
“Better machines in the production can enhance standard quality. The level at which Abakaliki rice are being patronised is still at an average percentage. This is due to the fact that the level of output by we farmers are not meeting up with the high demand of our products by consumers.
“Abakaliki rice is seen as being expensive compare to foreign rice as a result of lack of machines in place thereby involving almost 80% of human power in the production of Abakaliki rice in which the cost of paying for this labour are expensive compare to when machines are used in the production.”
Mr Mbey urged the Federal Government to deploy the media in sensitizing citizens on the need to patronize locally made goods.
It would be recalled that the World Bank, under its Growth and Employment (GEM), the World Bank promised to provide financial support to Ainotrans Energy-the producers of Abakaliki rice to enable it engage the services of vendors that will aid in carrying out its marketing drive.