By Richards Adeniyi
In response to the Federal Government’s plea for farmers not to take advantage of the current border closure, producers of the Ogoja Rice have disclosed plans to slash the price of the grain ahead of the Yuletide season.
Chairman of the Santuscom Agro-Hub Investment Nigeria Limited, producers of Ogoja Rice, Paul Santus, told journalists recently, in Abuja, that the company had scaled up production of the brand locally produced in Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State, to meet demand for the grain.
He told Nigerians not to panic ahead of the festive period, as the company is willing to crash the price of its 50kg bag to N14,000, saying all is set to meet rice demand in-country despite the skyrocketing price of the commodity in the market, following the border closure.
Recall that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had appealed to rice farmers, millers and marketers not to increase the price of the grain, saying it would impact negatively on government’s aim on closing the borders.
However, operators along the value chain cashed in on the situation to the extent that local rice, which sold at N16,000 for 50kg bag rose to N20,000 while foreign rice is sold at N22,000.
The Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development, Baba Shehuri, had said the closure of Nigerian borders has energised rice farmers, who now smile to the banks with the impressive sales, with attendant job opportunities created.
But Santus expressed concern over the high price, saying: “We want Nigerians to understand the action by the government, and notwithstanding, we want to assure Nigerians that as a company we will do everything possible before the Christmas and New Year celebrations to crash the prevailing and current market price of rice. We will be selling at N14,000 per 50-kilogram bag of rice anytime from now.”
He disclosed that they have produced about 1,000 hectares of rice farm ready for harvest soon to add to the current production of the commodity assuring that they would soon flood the market.
He said: “Everything is ready for us to commence serious production of high quality and stone-free Ogoja Rice that would be very affordable and accessible by consumers in any part of Nigeria. We have the capacity to crash the price because we have huge tonnes of paddy rice and high milling capacity from the rice mills we run.”