Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have expressed displeasure over how stone filled rice ruined their yuletide.
The residents spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
They decried that some unscrupulous Nigerians took advantage of the season and border closure to sell poorly processed rice which were packaged in beautiful bags to unsuspecting customers
They complained of how one in two or three bites had stones while chewing, adding that beside stones the rice was not properly de-husked.
While commending the efforts of the Federal Government that the border closure and other measures had encouraged consumption of locally produced goods, they expressed disappointment with people who took advantage of the situation to defraud other Nigerians.
According to them, some of the bags carried brand names of known and reputable rice milling companies in the country but decried that the contents were appalling.
Mrs Auta James, a business woman said the rice she prepared for the family during the yuletide was abandoned because they could not stand the stones in the rice.
She commended the Federal Government for encouraging local production and consumption of locally produced commodities, however, berated some Nigerians who instead of supporting government’s effort decided to defraud Nigerians.
According to her, border closure and other measures being put in place by government to develop the economy is what every Nigerian has been clamouring for and wondered why anybody should jeopardise such effort.
She said, “The Federal Government has done so well in terms of support to rice farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Programme and other programmes.
“The rice I cooked during the yuletide was a gift from an organisation and it was well packaged with the logo of a supposed reputable rice milling company in Nigeria.
“Little did we know that the rice was full of husks and stones. We were so disappointed.’’
Mrs Janet Johnson, a house wife narrated how the rice her husband brought home for the yuletide was abandoned because it was not properly processed.
She noted that the packaging of the rice was beautiful, adding that no one could have suspect that the content of the bag was different from the label.
“This year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations were the worst for us in so many years.
“We all know that one of the things that make the season enjoyable is the fact that families take their time to prepare meals especially rice.
“I suspect that some people decided to take advantage of the border closure to repackage poorly processed rice and sold them to unsuspecting customers because of the season.
“I feel something drastic should to be done to identify people that are into this shady deal and they should be punished.
Stephanie Ugwu, a student told NAN that the last yuletide was “a nightmare’’, noting that the rice they prepared had so many stones that they could not chew.
She said, “we usually prepare very clean and stone free rice during celebrations but this December, my parents said government is encouraging consumption of local rice.
“Unfortunately the rice we got was full of stones. Subsequently my mum tried to remove the stones but we still bite stones while eating.”
Mr Umar Ibrahim, Chairman, Kano State Chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Traders(NANTS), decried the development, saying he could feel the pains of those affected by such dishonest act.
He said the association would not rest on its oars in sensitising its members to desist from such despicable act.
“Whenever you buy rice, try to check the expiry date, the company and other details so that when there are complaints, they can be channelled properly.
“The association does not take such cases for granted, particularly when it has to do with our members, we insist on three ‘Rs’, when any of our members sells bad products to customers and they are Refer, Refund or Replace.
“We engage on periodic awareness creation on the dangers of any sharp practices and where we find anyone culpable we sanction them by suspending them from bringing goods to the market for a period of time,’’ he said.
He called on those involved in such act to desist, saying “they should not make people see the border closure, which is a blessing, seem like a curse.’’
National Deputy Secretary, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Iliyasu Awodi said, “there are millers or sellers that will buy from local producers and sell them like that. But our RIFAN rice is branded.
“We call it CBN/RIFAN fresh rice. This is high standard. We have a lot of integrated farms in Nigeria like OLAM that give quality rice.
“Nigerians want to make a lot of money and can do all sort of things to achieve that. They are sabotaging even the public-will, which we are not yet there and that is not good for Nigeria.”
He further said, “why should we repackage our rice, we should not be ashamed of our rice.”
He noted that rice mills were being established by individual companies and state governments across the country to help produce clean rice for consumption.
While calling on those involved in such act to desist, Awodi urged Nigerians not to lose hope in government’s effort to grow the economy.