Lagos – Stakeholders in the rice and poultry industry have called on the Federal Government to sustain the ongoing borders closure, in order to give room for Nigerians farmers to thrive and meet local demands.
The stakeholders who spoke with our Correspondent unanimously agreed that if given the chance, will produce locally to meet the food needs of the country.
They also commended the Federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria on the anchor borrowers programme, stating that it is helping some of the farmers but more need to be done for more farmers to benefit to be able to produce more.
Aminu Goronyo, National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) said that since the borders closure a lot of rice farmers are increasing their production areas because there is a huge market for paddy rice.
He said this is because millers are patronising rice farmers now and off-taking all that they produce immediately.
Goronyo noted that members of the association worked tirelessly to ensure that the demands for rice are met during the last yuletide and even after.
On the prices that are still on the high side, he assured that soonest the prices will be down as a lot of Nigerians have now ventured into the business ranging from production, processing, packaging and marketing.
“In no distance time, God willing, Nigerians will find our rice much available and affordable across the country.
Speaking on the quality, as investigation shows that most of the Nigerian rice is full of stones, Goronyo averred that Nigerian rice does not have stones, adding that it is even better finished than that of foreign and that of Ghana.
“Let me tell you, Nigerian rice does not have stones. It is even better finished than that of foreign, than that of Ghana. I tell you there are saboteurs who deliberately put stones in their bags just to discourage Nigerians from eating Nigerian rice and they don’t put their addresses on their bags.
Speaking further, he appealed to Nigerians who generally have a high preference for foreign varieties to shift to local brands.
Ezekiel Ibrahim, National President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) called for an enabling environment stating that if that is available there will be increase in production and that the produce will be cheaper.
“Why people smuggled is because our cost of production is very high and what they smuggle is cheaper and they are not concerned with our health. But now that the border has been closed, the market is here everybody is increasing production, we have the capacity and the capability to feed ourselves.
Ibrahim noted that the poultry sector is private sector driven and that some of the trillions of naira investment in the sector are idle because of smuggling but now they are picking up and expanding their capacities.
Speaking further he said that the poultry industry has not benefitted from the Anchors Borrowers programme while calling on the government to extend it to the industry and other food and cash crops in the country to assist farmers increase their production as it is for rice.
He noted further that the interest rate in Nigeria is still very high, that the nine per cent is not really competitive enough.
“I also want to appeal to the Federal Government on behalf of the Nigerian farmers that the interest rate is still high you know that our economy is still not strong but if government can now move downward to about five per cent I am sure it will make the sector more competitive.
“We appreciate the ongoing Anchor Borrowers programmes but it does not go to all farmers.
Stephen Olufemi, General Secretary, Poultry Association of Nigeria, (PAN) Lagos State chapter, said that the closure of the border has helped farmers in the country especially the poultry farmers because there has been a great increase in their production.
He said that farmers have been seeing the impact because their products are been sold as at when due and that a lot of farmers cannot meet demands of their customers which has not been so for a very long time.
“We have seen the impact because we are selling our product as it is required now; before we are always running helter-skelter to sell our products like processed chicken, but nowadays people are rushing our products, since they have opened market for us.
“Now that the border has been closed we are doing more and we are also employing more people. In our sector alone we are able to employ 10million people in Nigeria so the moment the border has been closed on imported frozen foods, we are really enjoying. In no time there will be boom in production.
Wale Oyekoya, an Agriculturist/ Consultant while speaking said that there is no doubt about it that the land borders closure have really boost the agriculture sector and should remained closed until there is food sufficiency in the country.
He said producing more rice locally have really reduced the pressure on dollars to import some of these unwholesome food items such as rice, poultry products.
“It will also reduce our foreign debts because sometimes our importers buy some of these food products on foreign credits affecting our foreign reserves.
“The government anchor borrower is helping some of our farmers but more need to be done for more farmers to benefit to be able to produce more.
According to him, cost of production still remain high despite the government intervention, stressing that some of the anchor borrower intervention should be used for research and development to get better yield from the farms.
Speaking further he said that it will not be out of place if the anchor borrowers’ programme could be extended to other products as this will boost local contents and create more wealth and jobs for the teeming youths.
“The state governors need to show that they are serious to promote agriculture sector since all states have comparative advantage of different types of cash crops and animal production.
Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, former National President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) stated that the closure will generate between 500 thousand and one million jobs within a two year period, adding that the local poultry industry has the capacity to produce enough chicken to satisfy local consumption and export around the continent but that Nigerians must be ready to support the industry to grow to enjoy the benefits.
He said that over the next two years, a lot of farms will expand, and lot of new farms hands will be added and it will create a million jobs.
“We have to be patient, a number of countries that have achieved success in agriculture that we are very quick to make reference to have committed to policies such as this but with a long term vision.
Oduntan who is also the Group Managing Director, Amo Farm Sieberer Hatchery Limited said that it is not only the poultry farmers that will be affected but also others along the value chain which will include; farmers planting maize, soyabeans, cattle because of the bone meal, limestone quarries, wheat and rice bran from flour mills and rice mills among other.
Oduntan, while speaking on pricing said that what will happen is that even if the price goes up for a while now, by the time the industry starts to produce in larger quantities, economies of scale and competition will force the prices to come down significantly, which is what has happened in all the countries where the poultry demand is being serviced by the local poultry industry.
He said that Nigerians must properly appreciate the real situation and we have to understand the short, medium and long term implications of the decisions that we take.
“We should stop enriching other countries at our own expense. Nigeria needs to create jobs to survive. Poultry production is a low hanging fruit with remarkable short and long term benefits,” he added.
Lagos state deputy chairman, AFAN said that Nigeria rice are everywhere but that there are economic saboteurs who do not want the country to succeed.
On the quality of the rice produced in the country, he said that Nigeria rice is good but some people now re-bag and probably add stones.
He said that there is no foreign rice in the country at the moment that what most people are doing is re-bagging.
“They want to be sabotaging the efforts of the local rice farmers. What they are doing now is that they are re-bagging, I can tell you most of the foreign rice you think you are seeing now are Nigerian rice which are re-bag without address. Our rice is on ground and enough to feed us but there is internal smuggling now,” he added.
Pastor Adeola Elliott, a farmer said that it is hoped that the efforts of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) so far on loan and technical support to farmers will boost production gradually.