The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), has embarked on the training of women from seven states in the North West on rice processing, to boost food production in the country.
The women, drawn from Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa states, began the three-day training in Sokoto on Thursday.
The Director of Agricultural Services, FMARD, Mrs Karimatu Babangida, represented by Assistant Director, Rice Value Chain, Mr Usman Bashir, said women process 70 per cent of local rice consumed in the country.
She said the aim of the training was to introduce the women to modern methods of parboiling rice to make it clean and attractive to marketers and consumers.
”This poor quality is responsible for lack of market competitiveness of our milled rice which fueled smuggling of foreign rice into the country to the detriment of our rice industries.
”Foreign rice is not better than our locally produced rice, the difference is the way local ones is being processed,” she said.
According to her, the ministry has introduced simple technology to improve the quality of locally processed rice.
Babangida said that the participants were expected to stepdown the training to others in their localities, adding that similar training was conducted in other geopolitical zones.
”Rice is an important food consumed by Nigerians, its farming and processing attract jobs, the nation’s food sufficiency and income generations.
”The training was organised by FMARD in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency, which developed simple technology designed to improve women rice parboilers’ output, ” Babangida said.
The Chairman of Rice Millers Association in Sokoto State, Alhaji Nura Attajidi, said the training would expose rice millers to new techniques of producing, processing, packaging and marketing rice, to attract more buyers.
Attajidi said the new technology would reduce fuel needed to power generators, as it entailed simple boiling process.
He urged stakeholders to provide alternative dryers to stop the spraying of rice in open spaces and avoid contamination.
The chairman said that there were over 5,000 rice millers in the 23 local government areas of Sokoto state, greatly assisting the nation’s growth and food security.
He lamented that small scale rice millers were excluded from Federal Government support programmes, which only targeted farmers.
Attajidi appealed to stakeholder to support rice millers with incentives, modern machines, loan and other business support packages.
The Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of FMARD, Mr Suleiman Abdulmajid, said the major problem of local rice was the poor parboiling methods.
He said that improving the process would ensure quality and patronage.
”If we say we are producing rice, we should equally eat good rice, because what took many people to foreign rice is the cleanliness.
”You can cook foreign rice without removing stones first; parboiling is one of the things that lead to having less stones in rice.
”When you parboil with good technique, there will be no chance of having stones in them,” Abdulmajid said.
Some of the participants, Ms Maimunatu Gara and Ms Hajara Mudassir, said they would concentrate during the training to enable them learn more and teach others in their communities.