Traders commission rice mill, seek more investment
Nigerian traders, under the auspices of National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), have charged all arms of government and foreign investors to invest more in local rice production.
The association in collaboration with TY Danjuma foundation commissioned a small-scale rice milling facility worth N38.6m in Ruwanyo community in Nasarawa state.
The facility, meant to serve three communities of Aridi, Rafin-Kudi and Ruwanyo, comes with a rice miller with 300kg/hour capacity, capable of separating husks, bran, stones, broken rice and also polishing to make it compare relatively with imported rice.
There is also an installed vacuum pressure rice steam boiler of 300kg/hour, as well as multiple crops reaper and thresher that can reap and thresh rice, wheat, millet, guinea corn, soya beans, sesame and other grains.
At the commissioning, the president of the association, Ken Ukaoha explained that the association wants to touch the lives of women, who constitute more than 65 per cent of its members through the Gender Action Learning Systems (GALs).
He said farmers in the communities concerned are working with 10 kilometers of land for the purpose of cultivation of rice alone with rice already planted on a greater part of the land.
Ukaoha said the challenge the farmers have of taking their crop to the nearest mill in Lafia, coupled with lack of access road in the area had continually discouraged them from going into large scale farming.
However with the milling facility, which the association also provided with a 40 KVA generator to power it and a borehole facility for the community to solve the problem of lack of clean water, Ukaoha said he is optimistic that the farmers will perform optimally in the next farming season.
He said if the issue of diversification of the economy and food security has to be taken seriously, the government need to do all in its capacity to assist small holders farmers, who are the main providers of food in the country.
Ukaoha added that Nigeria has no business importing rice, if such project could be replicated in dedicated rice producing communities.
Highlighting some of the challenges facing farmers in rural areas, Ukaoha said it was high time government started to concentrate on Small Scale Farmers (SSFs) with deliberate policies that would enhance their productivity and livelihood.
He revealed that when it rains, farmers are cut off from the major city of Lafia as a result of the terrible road situation; it costs over N1,000 to transport a bag of paddy rice for milling at the closest mill, which is located in Lafia, and the same amount to bring it back to the village.