ENUGU, JANUARY 8, 2017 – Most residents in Enugu State have shifted patronage to locally produced rice, popularly called `Abakaliki rice’, as alternative staple food.
A correspondent of NAN, who visited major markets in Enugu metropolis on Saturday, observed that the de-stoned brand of the local rice had flooded grain selling shops.
The `Abakaliki rice’ now sells for between N12,000 and N14,000 per 50kg bag depending on variety; as against the foreign rice which is sold between N20,000 and N23,000 per 50kg bag.
The markets visited included Gariki, Ogbete, Mayor, Artisan, Kayetta and New Markets as well as some departmental stores in the metropolis.
Most rice retailers and hawkers who sell in cups and bushels, are currently stocking only the local rice.
Mrs Eunice Madu, a grain seller in Mayor Market, said that almost all the stocked local rice bags had been bought during the yuletide leaving out the foreign rice in the shop.
“I must confess we sold out almost all our available bag of `Abakaliki rice’ during the yuletide as most people turned to it due to its improved processing and de-stoning qualities.
“Also, it has lower price; with a margin of about N10,000 difference from the foreign rice,’’ she said.
Mr Chukwuebuka Okoye, a rice retailer, said that the local rice had made it possible for many families to still eat the staple food.
“At least with N70 you can get a cup of de-stoned Abakaliki rice as against N120 for a cup of foreign rice.
“So, we are getting huge daily patronage on the local de-stoned rice,’’ Okoye said.
Another resident, Mr Okechukwu Ugwu, said that the ban of rice and policy thrust on massive rice cultivation is in the right direction.
Ugwu noted that apart from saving scarce foreign exchange; cultivating rice leads to increase in productive activities and creating jobs in the country.
“It has been proven that the local rice is more nutritious, filling, and tasty; while it can be stored longer than the foreign rice,’’ he added.