Despite the claim by Federal Government that Nigeria has become Africa’s largest rice producer, the country is still in deficit of 1.56million tonnes valued at N358 billion ($778.2million).
The shortfall is 30.95 per cent of the country’s domestic consumption estimated at 6.6 million tonnes. Findings by New Telegraph from Index Mundi, a global import and export portal, revealed that the country had been able to produce 70 per cent of its consumption.
As at October 2020, it was gathered that locally milled rice production had reached 5.04million tonnes or N1.15trillion ($2.51billion). Within one year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its anchor borrower scheme has boosted local production by 11.2per cent or 600,000 tonnes. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, had explained in Abuja at the 2020 World Food Day that significant progress had been made to improve agricultural productivity since the inception of the present administration. He noted: “To boost food security
, Nigeria has curbed imports and has established a robust rice production programme to encourage more rice production at home. Efforts in this direction are starting to show results as Nigeria is now Africa’s largest producer of rice. The country is also the largest producer of cassava in the world.” Although, Thailand exporters have lost 1.2million tonnes of rice valued at $819.6million in Nigerian market following import restriction by CBN, smuggling of the grain from neighbouring countries to Nigeria is still on the increase.
Between February and April, 2019, a total of 43,000 bags of rice were seized alone from smugglers by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). Also, in 2018, data from the service also revealed that NCS‘s anti-smuggling unit seized 320,709 bags of imported rice from smugglers. Last year, the Federal Government made moves to attract N250 billion investments in rice production following plans to establish an additional 14 rice mills in the country. However, the price of the grain went up this year because of heavy rain and flood destroying crops in the northern part of the country.
The Senior Research Analyst, Financial Derivatives Company (FDI), Temitope Olugbile, had said that scarcity of rice should be expected as 450,000 hectares of rice or two million tonnes had been washed away in Kebbi state out of the expected 2.5 million tonnes, noting that this would lead to a high demand for the scarce commodity and price increase. Nevertheless, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Bulama Maina, said in Maiduguri that Borno had the capacity to deliver Nigeria’s rice requirements with continuous support from the Federal Government, Maina said: “Borno has a vast and fertile land for rice and wheat production in Nigeria and West Africa in general. The land along the shores of Lake Chad is fertile and can be cultivated without fertiliser.
If there is security, farmers can make use of the Chad Basin irrigation schemes in Abadam, New Marte, and Dikwa We have over 50,000 registered rice farmers in Borno.” It would be recalled that last year, the country saved N709.5billion ($1.94billion) from rice importation last year when the milled rice production reached 4.8million tons. According to the National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata, the border closure had yielded the desired results as the amount of foreign rice smuggled into Nigeria has reduced significantly, noting that rice farmers and millers would gain from the partial border closure.
He explained that some of the Asian rice traders had stopped signing new export contracts as labour shortage and logistics disruptions hamper the delivery of existing contracts. He noted that smuggling of foreign rice would soon come down to zero level, while the local rice would fill the gap conveniently. The chairman urged all stakeholders to join in the campaign against activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitisation to ensure attitudinal change on the part of the outlaws.