The Federal government has been charged to make agricultural infrastructure readily available and accessible to farmers.
Speaking on behalf of rice farmers, the chairman of Abakaliki Rice, Ebonyi State, Joseph Nnunu said this would enhance the Federal Government’s quest to boost food supply and provide more competitive source of incomes for Nigerians.
According to him, some of the major challenges stakeholders are facing in the rice sector include unavailability of tractors, parboiling machine, drying machine, access roads and boreholes, among others.
Nnunu said, “We are appealing to the government for aid. This is one major reason why foreign rice is cheaper than local rice.
“Government should encourage exporters of our local Abakaliki rice by providing stakeholders easy access to infrastructure while placing outright ban on the importation of foreign rice.’’
While lauding the efforts of the government and the United Nations in encouraging more Nigerians to embark on farming and reduce food scarcity, he noted that farmers were unable to meet the huge demand for local products by consumers due to lack of modern machines.
Nnunu said that the World Bank, under its Growth and Employment Scheme, had provided business support for Abakaliki Rice.
Under the arrangement, he noted that the World Bank provided financial support to Ainotrans Energy, the producers of Abakaliki rice to enable the firm engage the services of vendors for its marketing drive.
The Managing Director, Ainotrans Energy, Mr. Innocent Mbey, noted that rice milling was capital intensive.
‘‘We urge the Federal Government to provide machines for the production of Abakaliki rice. Better machines used in the production will enhance the quality of the product,” he said.
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