Rice sellers have said that unscrupulous local farmers now seize the opportunity of the border closure to bag poor-quality products 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.
“There is actually no problem with our locally processed rice in terms of taste but the problem lies in the processing and packaging.
“There is no difference between our local rice and the imported ones, except in the processing of our rice. We still have a long way to go.
“Most Nigerians will still go for the foreign rice if it is available because of the poor processing of our local variety,” said Chukwuma.
Similarly, Mr Jacob Nnamdi, said that given the situation of the border closure, Nigerians had no choice than to patronise the poorly processed Nigerian rice.
“Nigerians now have a preference for locally processed rice because it is affordable compared with the imported variety.
“Customers now turn the other way, even if there is imported rice. They prefer to patronise the locally processed type, due to affordability.
“But cooking locally processed rice is tedious because you need to clean out the chaff and pick stones before cooking,” Nnamdi said.