Kano State is gradually regaining its glorious position as the centre of commerce, as many new industries are now springing up in the ancient city.
Speaking on the development, the director of Industries in the state’s Ministry of Commerce, Alhaji Mahmoud Bala, described the tremendous rise in the number of industries, including rice mills, as a positive development that would boost socio-economic activities of the state.
LEADERSHIP correspondent, who observed this development, reports that indigenous entrepreneurs own these industries. In particular, no fewer than 12 rice mills, two textile industries, one lubricant company and two building materials and furniture companies have been established in the last two years.
Bala noted that all of these have started impacting positively on the lives of the teeming youths in Kano, who were before now unemployed.
He attributed the springing up of the industries to the enabling environment created by the state government as well as the federal government’s ease of doing business policy.
“The success story of these industries, including the rice mills, will not be unconnected with the gigantic efforts of both the state and federal government that created the enabling environment for entrepreneurs, especially rice farmers,” he added.
He enumerated some of the government interventions to include: provision of fertiliser at affordable prices, provision of good seedlings for farmers, and the creation of awareness among the farmers on the new scientific approaches to farming.
He said the federal government had done well through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s programme for farmers as well as the ongoing border closure, which brought about high demand for local rice.
The director said these and many more culminated in the springing up of industries in the state coupled with the commitment of the Nigeria Customs and Exercise to man the borders well compared to the negligence of the past.
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP on the new development, Alhaji Dalhatu Abubakar, a rice miller and president of KACCIMA, attributed the rise in the number of rice mills in the state to the encouragement by government and called on Nigerians to go back to farm.
He said as the owner of one of the biggest rice mills in the state, Al-Hamzad Rice, he used to keep two to three trailers of processed rice at his ware house before the closure of the borders due to lack of patronage, but after the closure of borders, he was able to sell all the available rice in the warehouse within three days.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive for the closure of our borders, most of the businessmen from the Southern and Eastern Nigeria turned to the home grown rice as alternative, a development that gave the local rice a big boost in the market.
“Today if I am in possession of 100 trucks of rice, no single bag will remain in the store. This is in contrast to how it used to be in the past when one will have hundreds of bags with no one willing to buy, even on credit. We only kept them in our warehouses. Even the distributors will not come forward to buy,” he said.
The KACCIMA president asserted that he was planning to expand his company because of the high demand for local rice from all over the country, a situation that has caused some customers to return home with their money after the supplies got exhausted.
He said that the local farmers that used to hoard the unprocessed rice have started cooperating with them by supplying the unprocessed rice in bulk to the big companies, noting however that there is need for the farmers to expand their farms.
According to Alhaji Abubakar, once the farmers dedicate themselves to farming rice they would have the capability to feed the nation with home grown rice and export same abroad.
He said, “Today we have four large rice mills that are bigger than mine, and another four of them that are of equal size apart from the smaller ones that are springing up across the state, which is a good omen.”
When our reporter interviewed Alhaji Awalu Mariri, a dealer on rice at the famous Singer Market, he said that he was very happy that the federal government had closed the borders to encourage local farmers, adding that this paved the way for the springing up of rice mills in the state.
He said although most of their customers, who used to come from Kaduna, Lokoja, Abuja, and Lagos, always insisted on buying foreign rice especially from Thailand, with the current development, they have changed their minds and opted for local rice.
Mariri informed our correspondent that what is affecting wholesalers like him is the inability of the rice millers to supply rice to the indigenous distributors, revealing that they mostly preferred selling to their customers from the southern parts of the country.
“Here in Singer Market it is very difficult for one to set his eyes on the local rice because of this problem. Big time businessmen will come with their millions and book for hundreds of bags, thereby starving the local businessmen,” he said.
He appealed to the rice millers to find a way of compensating them whenever rice is available due to their proximity to the rice mills.
One of the millers, who spoke on the issues raised by Alhaji Mariri, confirmed that the problem started when the rice millers were begging local distributors to come forward and buy the local rice from the indigenous millers even on credit but they will decline the offer and preferred the foreign one. That is why some of the millers are punishing them for their previous actions.
Chairman of the Kano State Concerned Citizens Initiative (KCCI), Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, recently spoke to our correspondent and described the establishment of the rice mills as a positive development that would help the state to grow economically.
Tofa said that was the reason why KCCI decided to pay them a visit with a view to encouraging them.
“We are going to look into their problems with a view to providing positive solutions to them,” he said, even as he pledged that the group would not relent in its efforts to support all those who proved to be productive for the attainment of greater Kano State.
Other industries aside the rice mills include Amasco Lubricant Company, Garba Karfe Investment, and Mudassir and Brothers, a textile, cosmetics company, among others.
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