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RIPAN blames high rice prices on insecurity

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Urgent intervention is needed to deliver the rice sector of its impediments.

In the wake of the recent impact of a surge in rice prices, the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has attributed the increase to smuggling, ongoing insecurity, and inflation while also calling on the next administration to enact new policies that will help improve the industry in the nation. In remarks made during a press conference held in Abuja on Tuesday, RIPAN Director General Andy Ekwelem lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for its assistance to date and pointed out means by which the next administration might develop and enhance the country’s rice sub-sector. He said the incoming government should prioritize reorganizing the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to monitor the country’s borders better.

The Nigerian rice industry is plagued by the illegal transportation of rice across the country’s land boundaries. In order for the food security initiatives and the significant investments made by the government and the private sector in the rice industry to thrive, the future administration will need to develop a new strategy for tackling smugglers and financial saboteurs. He advocated restructuring Nigeria’s current border surveillance system to allow Customs and other agencies stationed there to conduct the round-the-clock observation.

Border security and adequate policies are necessary for sustainability.

Technology should be employed if they are not already being used for border security; contemporary monitoring devices should be used immediately. Some examples of this technology include long-range surveillance drones, night vision scopes, and video monitors. In addition, as a method of providing officers with additional motivation, the working terms, welfare packages, and benefits offered by the Nigeria Customs Service and other government agencies stationed at the borders should be subjected to an upward review.

Similarly, he advocated for more practical and industry-friendly seed policies, stressing the importance of funding for reverse integration as well as the need for reliable research regarding the production of foundation seeds. There is going to be a requirement for a subsidy program that will enable processors to participate in paddy production by means of large-scale farming, the out-grower program, and contract farming. He also said urgent action is needed to push state governments to remove obstacles to acquiring land for paddy rice production on a wide scale.

Adequate irrigation and power system are essential.

Regarding the nation’s infrastructure, he suggested that the new government take immediate measures to repair and expand the country’s irrigation systems so that farmers can plant crops in successive seasons. They also want the national and state governments, and the agriculture and rural development ministries, to rethink how they handle the dams within their control. Certainly, it will benefit the country’s Agriculture if they can begin separating several dams and water bodies throughout the country to help supply the water necessary for farmers for irrigation and to minimize flooding.

Moreover, the government will have to intervene immediately in power generation and delivery to companies in order to relieve the burden of enormous capital investments in diesel power generation. This is necessary in order for finished products to be able to compete effectively in the market. To enable farmers to get their harvested products to market, the government will give serious consideration to the possibility of creating a good road system, particularly in rural towns where the majority of farmers reside.

Grain risk fund and other equipment will enhance small farming.

Lastly, Ekwelem pointed out that the Ministry of Agriculture will need to create a sustainable mechanized service program to provide Tractors and Planters, Threshers and Dryers, as well as strategic farm-silo/warehouses to smallholder farmers who produce the majority of the country’s crops and suffer the most from post-harvest as well as other damages. They suggest that the government build a flagship platform for agriculture that can provide single-interest rate loans to farmers everywhere. For this purpose, it could be helpful to establish a “grain risk fund” to meet the needs of the grain business in times of crisis.

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