The Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS), on Tuesday said the reason rice produced by Nigerian farmers is full of stones was unavailability of proper de-stoning machines.
National Coordinator, Mr Tedheke Retson, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the NFGCS farm, Gaate, Nasawara State.
Retson, who was reacting to complaints that some of the local rice purchased during 2019 yuletide was filled with stones, said de-stoning had become necessary in view of Nigerians’ continued apathy to local rice.
He, therefore, advised government and Nigerians to invest in local fabrication of de-stoning machines.
According to him, beyond border closure, governments at all levels as well as relevant stakeholders must begin to work towards making local rice stone-free so as to increase demand and boost production.
“The major challenge with regard to production and with stones is that we do not have proper de-stoning machines.
“What does it take to begin to fabricate and make de-stoning machines in Nigeria, grading machines in Nigeria that can work towards properly de-stoned rice in Nigeria?
“It has to form a part of the Nigeria question and what is that Nigeria question?’’ he asked.
He urged Nigerians to continue to patronise local rice while relevant bodies and stakeholders continued to work to improve the standard.
While admitting that a lot still needs to be done to make Nigerian products, particularly rice, more acceptable locally and internationally, Retson urged Nigerians not to give up on the country.
He noted that most robust economies of the world started on rough paths.
“The stone is a process of our development. We will rid the rice of stones, as we rid them of the stones we will get better with fabricating our parboiling equipment.
“As we get better with parboiling, we get better with colour sorting.
“As we get better in colour sorting, we get better in using rice for pharmaceutical products, for other value addition to rice.
“Not just as staple food, but also as a source of major industrial growth and industrial revolution in Nigeria.
“In the 1980s, nobody wanted to buy anything made in China, but today, the world is made in China. Nigerians must understand that it will first get worse before it becomes better”, he waxed philosophical.