The Nigerian government is encouraging private enterprises to establish rice processing facilities in the country to boost rice production and achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2015, according to local sources.
As a part of its plans to help set up private rice processing industries, the government has initiated a five-day training program on rice processing in five states – Niger, Kano, Jigawa, Borno and Zamfara.
The National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) will train around 100 women in rice processing. The government will provide grants to these women to establish rice processing and packaging industries, according to the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The grants will be used for purchasing rice milling machines, rice pre-cleaners, rapid steam par boilers, de-stoners, probe moisture meters, bag sewing machine, and collapsible raised wooden platform and weighing scale. The government aims to promote technology adaptation as well as economic engagement in rice processing and packaging through these grants, according to the Agriculture Permanent Secretary. She noted that the training would be replicated in other states as well.
In line with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), the government is planning to address key issues of unemployment, wealth creation and food security in the country. It is planning to help the Nigeria’s youth understand the key rice production concepts and facilities and guide them to produce rice which can compete with the imported rice in terms of quality.
Currently Nigeria’s locally produced paddy is milled by small mills and local rice is unable to compete with imported rice because local rice is not visually attractive and sometimes contain impurities. The government wants to ensure that locally produced rice gains acceptance in the country and compete with imported rice.
Nigeria’s government is planning to ban rice imports by 2015. Nigeria currently imports nearly 3 million tons of milled rice annually as locally produced rice of about 2.7 million tons is insufficient to fulfil the country’s consumption needs of about 6 million tons.