According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations Agricultural Outlook, Nigeria rice production is projected to increase by 2.22% to 6.4million tons by 2029 up from 4.9Mt while consumption is to grow by 3.52% compared to growth recorded in the last ten years. The increase expected in rice cultivation and production is based on multiple harvests per year, investments in locally adapted improved rice varieties and optimized management practices.
Rice production in Nigeria will account for 26% of the total expected rice production from Sub Saharan Africa in 2029 up from 23% in the last ten years. Rice production in Sub Saharan Africa is projected to reach 25Mt in 2029, representing growth of about 3.18% from 22million tons between the periods of 2017-2019, with Nigeria alone contributing about 2Mt during the period under review. Rice production is expected to increase in many African countries. This Outlook assumes that Africa’s rice production will be constrained by rain-fed water systems, limited use of inputs, and inadequate farm infrastructure.
Considering rice production and consumption in Nigeria, there is a gap of about 3million tons between both periods of 2010-2019. During this period, Nigeria rice production grew by 7.98%, which is higher than the growth of 4.95% in rice consumption, however the rise in growth rate of rice production could not meet up with the demand for rice consumption. The gap between rice production and consumption is projected to widen in 2029 due to the constrains like rain-fed water systems, limited use of inputs and inadequate farm infrastructure envisaged in the outlooks to impact production negatively.
Since rice consumption in Nigeria is projected to grow by 3.52% in 2020-2029 from 7.6million tons in the last ten years (2010-2019) to 10.9Mt during the period under review, it implies that the gap between rice supply and demand will widen more compared to the gap experienced in last ten years. The projected gap between rice supply and demand for the year 2029 is 4.5Mt. This indicates that effort toward rice production need to be doubled to reduce dependence on rice importation and to close the gap between rice supply and demand.
Presently, in Africa, rice is gaining more ground as a major food staple; per capita rice consumption is projected to grow by about 4 kg over the outlook period. With rice utilization projected to grow at a slightly faster pace than world supply, the global stocks-to-use ratio is projected to decrease marginally, from 35% in the base period to 31% by 2029.
Looking at rice trade, rice production in Nigeria is for domestic consumption rather than exports as the region increasingly relies on imports to close the gap between domestic production and consumption. Her trade deficit in rice therefore is anticipated to widen. Nigeria is projected to import up to 5Mt of rice by 2029 to close the gap between rice supply and demand, representing a growth of about 5.6% compared to last ten years importation. Nigeria also accounts for more than 14% of the total Africa projected rice importation by 2029. In Nigeria, imports are growing at a faster rate than production or exports. In fact, rice exports are zero. The country is not self-sufficient in rice production and instead, its import dependence is expected to deepen over the next ten years.
In summary, the growth in rice demand as a preferred staple has been so strong that production intensification and higher yields per hectare was not sufficient to fill the gap and meet rice demand. In spite of successes recorded in rice production, there were a lot of gaps in the system. The policies, acts and initiatives failed to recognize the problems of the stakeholders because they were detached and foreign to the tradition and cultural practices of the stakeholders. The country’s policy on rice has been inconsistent and has oscillated between import tariffs and import restrictions including outright ban. Pressure from international financial organizations, such as the World Bank, World Trade Organization, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) helped in introducing distortions in the policies. Efforts by all stakeholders, the desirable political will by government and sound agricultural rice policy are essential to ensure that necessary conditions exist in meeting rice production.