Poor electricity supply as well as inadequate supply of paddy rice has been identified as the major challenges facing the newly established rice mills in Funtua area of Katsina State, Daily Trust can report.

Some entrepreneurs have established the rice mills in Funtua to cue into the local rice value chain in the state.

In December 2015, Daily Trust reported how local rice millers in Katsina State cried for modern machines that would make their product well refined and polished to compete favourably with foreign brands in the market.

The manager, SB Rice Mill, Unguwar Dahiru in Funtua, Malam Abubakar Yusuf, said apart from electricity, there was low supply of the paddy rice, especially from the month of February.

“Because there are no established rice irrigation sites in this part of the state, our supply declines from February, when we exhaust the one planted in the rainy season. We then have to travel to Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto states to source for the paddy rice,” said Malam Abubakar.

He added that though they sold the milled rice at N15,000 per 50kg, they were also virtually rendering milling services to outsiders who came bring paddy rice to be killed for the market or for home consumption.

A 100kg bag of paddy rice, according to Malam Abubakar, was milled at the rate of N1,600 but if the client preferred to parboil the rice himself, the company would only charge him N1,000 for milling and packaging.

He emphasized that parboiling of the paddy rice was the cornerstone of quality milling hence, they would soon purchase the mechanised boiler in the firm.

A local rice miller from Mahuta, Funtua LGA, Nasiru Muktar, said the proliferation of the modern milling machines was a welcome development, adding that now there are not less than four milling plants in Funtua and its environs.

“The modern millers are adding quality and value to our locally produced rice at a low cost. Poor electricity supply is our constraint as sometimes we hardly get our rice milled on time to meet the demand of our markets,” said Nasiru.

According to him, a quality bag of paddy rice when milled and sieved gave 18 measures (tiya), “but sometimes our unreasonable appetite for foreign products is making our customers to shy away from the local rice especially at the price of N800 to N900 per measure.”

Another local rice miller in Kafur Local Government Area, Abdulsamad Isiyaku Layin Baja, told this reporter that in the absence of irrigation site for rice cultivation, they relied on Makarfi, in Kaduna State, and Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto states for their supply of paddy rice.

“In order to meet our optimum capacity in rice production, there is need to speed up the establishment of the Jare dam in Bakori LGA so that we have enough water to cultivate rice all year round like Kebbi State,” Isyaku said.

He commended the Katsina State government for its pledge to provide them with modern milling machines for rice and wheat, adding that it would upgrade their business and boost revenue generation of the state.