For many involved in agribusiness, the ongoing rice revolution in Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is unprecedented. The notion is that never in the history of the country has Nigeria witnessed an agressive approach to rice production; not even in the Olusegun Obasanjo’s military era was Nigeria this committed to be self sufficient in rice production.
As at 2020, it was reported that Nigeria produced over 8 million metric tonnes of milled rice in a year, surpassing the outputs of Egypt and other nations on the African continent.
Reports by international agencies place Nigeria’s annual rice output at 3.2 million metric tonnes. But this figure was disputed by Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) This is because farmers in the country has two rice farming seasons. In each season, 4 million metric tonnes of rice is produced. And with 12 million Nigerians involved the process, this figure can’t be disputed.
This is evident in what is being witnessed in the last few years: from Gaate in Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, to Kebbi State and to the loamy terrains of Ebonyi, there is a growing supply of well-milled, stone-free rice competing in the market.
The evidence lifts the spirit of every Nigerian as local rice are today spotted in mega retail stores, neighbourhood markets and in small corner stores. Nigeria-milled rice has regain its spot and Nigerians are buying and consuming them with all sense of pride.
This is one area that seems like there is a mutual consent and spirit of patriotism among citizens of the country to eliminate importation of foreign rice, that has overtime become a major contributor in importing poverty into the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari sure deserves some accolades for his resilient and faith in the Nigerian farmers. He resilient and firm insistence that Nigerians must eat and buy Nigeria, is paying off handsomely in the long run. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also has to be commended for investing so much in this sector.
With support from the government through the central Bank of Nigeria, there is a rebirth of hope, a rekindling of confidence in the local rice farmer and he is richer today. Marketers are in business and Jobs have been created. Through this, a functional and effective value chain has been created. Indeed, there is an ongoing revolution in the farm and market place.
Unlike few years back, locally produced rice today dominates the rice market in Nigeria and Nigerians are beginning to appreciate the relevance of eating home grown rice to the home economy. They have also being cautious with the health implications of consuming imported rice, most of which contained poisonous preservatives or expired rice that found their ways into the shores of the country.
When THISDAY paid a visit to a community based farm settlement in Nasarawa State, Gaate, in Kokona Local Government Area, manages by the Nigerian Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS) and NFGCS Limited, producers of GAATE GOLD Rice, it was evident that there is indeed a rice revolution in the country. Clearly, Nigerian farmers are in for business to end rice importation of the staple to provide a competitive market among local producers and millers.
At the inception of the green revolution, mainly on rice, Nigerians had complained of stony rice but today who cares again.
“Eat that so called “stone rice” like the Asian did if Nigeria must develop her local industries”, said Retson Tedheke, Managing Director and National Coordinator, NFGCS.
Today most Nigeria families have settled for the Nigerian brand of rice. They have crossed parts with various brands of local rice. They have also tasted all the varieties; from the big brands and the ones still struggling to gain popular acceptance in the market. And the very best among them have naturally set themselves out.
In less than four years in the Nigeria market, GAATE GOLD is fastly becoming a household name in the rice market, even in Lagos where local and foreign rice battle for supremacy, it is already beating others in size, quality and packaging
GAATE GOLD is one of the leading premium rice in Nigeria market today, with bold and proudly Nigerian emblem. A top-notch, processed in the most hygienic environment, healthier, natural, well packaged and properly branded.
“We are coming into the market with the real Nigeria story. We want to become major player in the rice market. We want to ensure total elimination of rice import. This is the goal”, Retson Tedheke told THISDAY.
He said the, “rice market in Nigeria is large. What we are trying to do is to come in and make a significant mark. Nigeria still import a lot of rice. Why should we still be importing rice? We import a lot of things we can produce locally. This is not healthy for the economy. Why are we doing that?”, Mr. Retson asked.
“We have the capacity of producing jobs through the value chain. So we are coming as major players to maximize the value chain and grow our GDP.
“Our rice is made in Nigeria, stone-free, chemical-free, golden and premium. It’s produce by the Nigerian defiant and dedicated spirit of “Nigeria first and Nigeria” only”.
“We are asking Nigerians to stop consuming foreign rice with chemicals that they don’t know the source. We are telling Nigerians that a particular community in north central of Nigeria, Gaate in Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State is gradually becoming hot bed for rice production and milling.
He said the closure of border has not effective as foreign rice still find their ways into our marketplace. He also noted that the EndSARS protest in Lagos last year compromised the country land boarders and eventually opened the floodgate for smugglers to snuggle rice into the country. A situation he said affected significant amount of their supply chain to the Lagos market.
Mr. Retson said government must continue to subsidise farmers in the country to cut the cost of production to make the staple more affordable at the retail shelves.
“We are not talking about crashing the price of rice in the market but what we are doing is almost closed to that because our price is reasonable and affordable for all compare to what you get in the market today. But the government must also do more to help us actualise this. At the long run, it would be a win-win situation for the government who would have no reason to battle smugglers and to the people who would also have no reason to patronise foreign rice or smuggled rice”.
With an automated rice milling lines with a production capacity of about 60 tons per day, and with the plans to agressively compete in the market and the planned expansion of their infrastructure, it’s evident that GAATE GOLD is not only becoming a household name in the rice market in Nigeria but will be sustained like others who have come before it.