According to Hon. Joseph Nnunu ‘‘the major challenge we face in this sector is unavailability of tractors, parboiling machine, drying machine, access roads, boreholes to mention just a few. We are appealing to the federal government for their aid. This is one major reasons that the cost of buying foreign rice is cheaper that ours. Government should encourage exporting our locally made product like the Abakaliki rice by providing them easy access to these infrastructures and place an outright ban on the importation of foreign rice in the country.’’
While he applauds the effort of the federal government in conjunction with United Nations to encourage more Nigerians to embark on farming in order to reduce high rate of scarcity of food, he avers that ‘‘farmers are not meeting up with the high demand of our products by consumers due to lack of modern machines. This has led to a low turnout of agricultural output and accounts for the relatively high cost of local rice compared to foreign ones’’.
Recall that the World Bank, under its Growth and Employment (GEM), the World Bank had promised to provide financial support to Ainotrans Energy-the producers of Abakaliki rice to enable it engage the services of vendors that will aid in carrying out its marketing drive.
Similarly, Mr. Innocent Mbey of Ainotrans Energy believes that rice milling is capital intensive. ‘‘We need aid from the Federal government in the provision of the necessary machines for the production of Abakaliki rice. Better machines in the production can equally enhance more standard quality. The level at which Abakaliki rice are being patronized is still at average percentage; this is due to the fact that the level of output by we farmers are not meeting up with the high demand of our products by consumers.
He also believes that the federal government should deploy the media to sensitize citizens on the need to patronize locally made goods. ‘‘They should also organize seminars to educate the citizens on the advantages of using our local products. It is only by placing more adverts in the media to enlighten Nigerians on the positive impact of patronizing local contents that the country`s GDP and export base will improve. Abakaliki rice is seen as being expensive compare to foreign rice as a result of lack of machines in place thereby involving almost 80% of human power in the production of Abakaliki rice in which the cost of paying for this labour are expensive compare to when machines are used in the production’’. He submitted.