The Managing Director/CEO of Stine Rice Industries, Amichi, Anambra State, Chief Akai Egwuonwu, has called on the Federal Government not to relent in its effort to checkmate excessive importation of rice to make local rice farmers thrive. Egwuonwu, who expressed his worry at his factory site in Amichi yesterday, said some local rice producers were becoming stifled because of the sharp competition generated by rice importers, a situation that had caused excess supply over demand and subsequent increase in the cost of production for the farmers.
He lamented that rice farmers in the country were not selling at the right prices and pleaded that the recent rice allocation to millers by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should be adjusted. He complained that his rice mill, adjudged to be one of the biggest in the country, was allocated only 30,000 metric tonnes as against its annual production capacity of 140,000 to 150,000 metric tonnes.
He, however, explained that the committee members that made the allocation confessed that they did not have the actual capacity details of the mill. The rice miller said he was hopeful that the adjustment would be made in subsequent allocation to consider real production capacity of every mill. He commended the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who he said had taken measures to checkmate the activities of rice importers to help local farmers have a good share of the market. “He is like a father to us,” Egwuonwu admitted, saying the only way to encourage self-sufficiency in food production was to give all the needed assistance to local farmers.
He regretted that banks were not really helping farmers as they should. “Generally speaking, banks have not been best partners to those in this sector. Their facilities are stringent because of the short time require to pay back loans. The banks are stampeding the agricultural sector,” he noted.