Rice sellers have said that unscrupulous local farmers now seize the opportunity of the border closure to bag bad quality product for sale.
This has slowed down the sale of local rice, a cross-section of foodstuff sellers said in Lagos on Friday
They said that poor processing and packaging are the key factors hampering patronage of locally produced rice.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria that the scarcity of imported rice after the closure of Nigeria’s borders would have boosted patronage of local rice but for the poor processing.
A foodstuff seller, Mr. John Nwabueze, who operates a shop at Alimosho in Agege, Lagos State, told NAN that Nigerian rice farmers need to do more work on their produce to make their rice acceptable.
“The Nigerian rice industry is presently not doing so badly. It is just that our local rice processors need to improve on their final product.
“I believe that it is the increase in the demand of locally processed rice, following the border closure that has resulted to the recent poor processing of local rice.
“At the first week of the border closure, locally processed rice supplied to us were well polished without stones; but with the increased demand, it is now poorly processed.
“After two weeks of border closure, we started getting supplies of rice with stones, chaffs and different species of rice mixed together.
“It is, indeed, a terrible situation. I am selling rice but it is not nice and that is the only choice we have for now. We are hoping it will get better before the borders reopen.
“If we can improve on our locally processed rice it will be more beneficial to Nigerians than reopening the border because the money will now be within the country,” Nwabueze said.
Another foodstuff seller, David Chukwuma, said that rice processed in Nigeria could compete with any variety in the world, if Nigerian farmers could process better.