‘COVID-19 RESPONSIBLE FOR HIGH COST OF RICE’
The COVID-19 pandemic has been described as a major factor that has made it impossible for the price of rice to come down as most households in Nigeria would expect.
Also the ban on international flights globally has its own devastating effect as some of the rice milling companies in the country have no spare parts to refurbish their machineries periodically forcing them to close down.
The Managing Director of Labana Rice Mills Ltd. in Kebbi State, Alhaji Abdullahi Idris Zuru, who disclosed this to newsmen last weekend however, gave hope that with the raining season in place now, farmers are expecting bumper harvest couple with the ease of lockdown, by the Federal Government which has enabled the resumption of international flights, prices of rice would reduce.
He explained that paddy of rice that was sold for N110,000 per ton, rose to N210,000 per ton which is almost 100 per cent increment, asking if the rice mills would fold up or close down because of high cost of paddy rice? he further added that “despite this, production must continue, salary must be paid and we must continue to pay for all other services.”
Zuru explained further that in all the paddy rice-producing states like Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara which he knows, harvest recorded a drop by 60 per cent, while the remaining 40 per cent available is for millers in the country.
He pointed out that in Kebbi alone, the 40 per cent is not enough for his company (Labana) and WACCOT company which is another company producing rice in the state. He further noted that all major rice companies in Nigeria have their warehouses in Kebbi state, they have their agents and offices.
“It got to a point where millers or dealers of paddy rice or merchants of paddy rice are following farmers to their farms, they would value their produce and pay for it before harvest.” He said.
The good news according to him is that, in the next two months, this high price of rice will drop because this year’s raining season is very favourable to farmers, many of them have returned to the farms and they are now producing.