In the last three years, local rice has made significant gains in the market across the country, border closure and improved campaigns for Nigerians to embrace local rice as the best.
Today, there are premium quality rice brands from the Nigerian stable, which give the consumers the opportunity to make good choices.
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The country’s integrated millers, too, are improving the quality of their rice by the day to bridge the gap between the locally processed rice and the imported ones in terms of quality.
Some of the brands in the market include Olam’s Mama Pride and Mama Gold, from Nasarawa State, Umza Premium Quality rice from Kano State, Stine Rice from Anambra, Ebonyi Rice from Ebonyi State, Labana Rice from Kebbi State, WATCO Red Bull also from Kebbi State and Stallion from Popular Farms in Kano State.
Others include Ashi rice from Benue State, Marvi rice also from Benue and Coscharis rice from Anambra State.
Besides these popular brands, there are hundreds of other medium scale packaged rice across the country as thousands of smallholder rice mills are scattered across many states in the country.
Daily Trust observed that, many persons are now making money through processing rice into package bags under a brand name at the Lafia Rice Mill. These individuals take advantage of the installed smallholder Japanese mills to mill and de-stone their rice.
The area is a beehive of activities for many locals, making a living as thousands of buyers troop to the place daily to buy the local rice.
“I have been involved in this business for the last four years and I can tell you that the business is moving. Nigerians are now buying more local rice now than before. The issue with local rice before now is the issue of stones but right now the quality has improved because we have destoning machine that removes the stones from the rice,” Michael Okechuckwu, who supplies the product to Maraba Market in the outskirt of Abuja, said.
Mrs Ayina Obaji has been selling local rice since 2016. She said the market had changed and many were coming into the business.
“If you have clean local rice, it will be difficult to identify which is local, which is foreign. We have local rice that can compete with rice coming from anywhere. These days you hardly find stones in local rice that were properly processed.
“You know rice doesn’t grow stones in the farm, it is the way we process it that determines whether it is good or not,” she said.
Currently, it is hard to find paddy on the ground because many millers now scuffle for the paddy market-to –market, an agent for one of the big companies told Daily Trust on telephone from Mutum Biyu- a major producing area in Taraba State.
Some of the sellers at the Garki Market in Abuja told Daily Trust that many people now prefer local rice which they said has improved tremendously. Some sellers ran out of stock of some of the local brands due to demand.