By NewsCritic Reporters
The Director-General of Abia State Marketing and Quality Management Agency, Barrister Sam Hart has said that the intervention of the agency has been able to force down the price of Abia rice in the market, as a bag now sales for between N17, 000 to N18, 000 instead of N20, 000 and above.
Speaking in an interview with the NewsCritic in his office in Umuahia, the DG who said that part of the agency’s mandate is to stabilize the market and protect consumers against exploitation, disclosed that when the agency started marketing Abia rice the price suddenly shot up, and the agency has to put measures in place to control the production and distribution process to bring down the price.
Said the DG “part of our assignment too is that we are market stabilizers to protect the consumer against undue exploitation. When we started marketing Abia rice, the next thing we noticed was that the price started going up from N16, 000 to N17, 000 and now people started selling even at higher prices to N20, 000 a bag in the market.
“So what we decided to do in continuation of our mandate is to put measures in place to control the levels of production, because the products are coming from Uzuakoli and different places. So, they now supply to us and we sale at N17, 000 a bag, which is the total cost of production. We are not selling at a profit because we are not a profit making organisation. We have our warehouse loaded with rice and people come to buy at the control price, so the market can’t take their price too high, he reasoned.
He stressed that the Abia rice is of high quality and stone free adding that apart from rice the agency is also marketing other agro-based products like oil palm, cassava, yam, cashew nut and several others. He disclosed that majority of the Abia Traditional Rulers are into large scale farming and need to expand their markets.
Sam Hart revealed that besides the marketing of agro based products and made in Aba clothing materials, he said the agency is empowered to enforce standard of goods and services manufactured and offered in Abia State.
“Our mandate is two pronged, one is that we are mandated by law to expand existing markets and find new markets for all products and services made or offered in Abia. The second is that we are to enforce standardization of all goods and services manufactured in Abia state, to ensure good standard. Our attention is not just focused on the manufacturing sector, we are also looking at the service sector like hotels, eateries, schools. We are mandated by law to visit them to ensure that the services they offer meet minimum acceptable standard, he stressed.
He said the agency is empowered by law to certify them and to make sure that, “for instance in the school the minimum number of students per classroom is maintained. Same goes for the eateries because the sanitary condition is important, the staff are they covering their hair, do we find cockroaches around the premises and we have to make sure that you don’t serve over night food to customers for health reasons”.