Be Warned! That Rice Could Be Fake!

Inside A Rice Company ! PHOTO: ANN GODWIN

Inside A Rice Company ! PHOTO: ANN GODWIN

IT’S the season for merrymaking with plenty to eat and drink. As a result, bags of rice are everywhere. Some unscrupulous Nigerians, however, may be cashing in on increase in demand, pushing out consumers products from questionable sources.

Investigation by The Guardian last week revealed that some smart ‘entrepreneurs’ might be helping themselves to grains of rice discarded at Abonema wharf in Rivers State. Having collected these, they head to some secret location where the product is cleaned up and repackaged in branded bags.

About seven youths, all from a section of the country, were sighted in an uncompleted building along Ikwere road in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, busy refilling empty rice bags with the stuff.

Glad that a prospective buyer had come, a man who appeared to be in charge, explained that the boys were merely removing dust from the grains. Upon further interrogation, he modified his position, saying the rice was being transferred to the bags for use as livestock feed. As probing continued, the youths working at the ‘rice company’ disappeared.

Some Port Harcourt residents who commented on the matter, described it as deeply worrying, adding that the harsh economic situation in the country might be pushing some people into making dishonest living. They expressed concern over high price of the commodity, suggesting it might have made some Nigerians opt for doubtful versions of the product. “Things are becoming worse day by day, so why would some Nigerians not compromise standards,” said Mrs. Clarina Michael.

But Mr. Sunny Finebone, a civil servant, with the Ministry of Agriculture, described the action of the ‘rice producers’ as disgusting, saying no matter the economic adversity, it lacks justification. “It is sheer wickedness, and the authorities must nip it in the bud,” he said.

A bag of rice, which used to sell for N9,500-N10,000 now costs N12,000-N14,000. A visit to the Mile One market showed that a cup of rice, formerly N50, now sells for N60-N70.

Rice seller, Mr. Onyekachi Henry, lamented that despite buying the product from distributors at a high price, rise in cost of transportation, occasioned by the ongoing fuel scarcity, continues to hurt business.

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