The Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) — a programme aimed at boosting the competitiveness of domestic rice supply in selected African countries has started the training of 16 integrated rice millers in paddy grading standard in a bid to boost the quality of Nigerian rice.
The Country Operations Manager of CARI Dr Andrew Efisue said that the training in paddy grading standard which started in Abuja was organised to enable the rice millers to use uniform standard in grading paddy, instead of using personal standards that were different from one another.
He explained that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) had come up with a grading paddy standard which should be used by all millers across the country.
“Some mills have their own grading standard but once SON grading standard comes into force, the standards of the rice mills are expected to be synchronised with the SON standard and a uniform grading standard would be applied to paddy in all the mills. The non-uniform grading has been causing confusion for rice farmers because if farmers sell paddy directly or indirectly to millers, the same paddy would attract different grades in different mills.”
“The standard guideline, which has been signed by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, relevant agencies and stakeholders, will mandatorily be used and sub-standard paddy cannot be officially traded,’’ he said.
The Managing Director, Minaaz Agro Services, Mr Mike Nasamu said that CARI was training rice millers, especially paddy buyers, quality control managers and relevant officers of the integrated rice mills, in the paddy grading standard.
Nasamu, who is also a Lead Trainer and Consultant, said that one of the objectives of the training was to know how to process rice in Nigeria in ways that conform to international standards.
“The only way to achieve that is to process quality paddy, and the selected trainers will go back to their respective states to step the knowledge down to rice farmers and other stakeholders. Farmers do accept the results of the grading and even receive the payment of cheaper prices because most of them cannot go to rice mills or afford equipment for paddy grading to verify the exact grade of their produce.The standard manual will make the process simple and save time, while farmers will be able to ascertain the grade of their paddy with less expensive tools,’’ Nasamu explained.
The Chief Agriculture Superintendent, FMARD, Shuibu Ishaka, said that the selected integrated millers were trained on how to identify quality paddy before processing it to avoid its mix-up with other kinds of paddy.
“The training will empower the millers with skills on how to get quality paddy, mill rice and train the farmers who supply the paddy to them. We will show them our laboratory that has been equipped by JICA; we will also train them on how to use the equipment if any of the integrated mills have some of the equipment,’’ he added.