Nigeria to spend N901.93 billion on rice importation in 2029

… Notwithstanding projected increase in production

Report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nation Agricultural Outlook available to MSMEsToday reveal that Nigeria’s spending on rice importation is projected to reach N901.93 billion by 2029 from N467.96 billion in 2019-2020 despite the projected increase in production for the same period.

With 1.7 million out of 4.6 million hectares available for rice cultivation, more than 12.2 million farmers involved in rice production across the country, different interventions of government at different levels to increase rice production, rice production, one would expect the amount spent on rice importation to have reduced drastically over the years, but the reality is that production is still far from the demand.

There is a gap of about 3 million tonnes between rice demand and supply in the last 10 years. During this period, Nigeria’s 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 supply and demand is projected to widen in the next years due to insecurity, Covid-19 pandemic; constrains like rain-fed water systems, limited use of inputs and inadequate farm infrastructure envisaged in the outlook to impact production negatively.

With the widening gap in supply and demand ratio, rice importation is expected to increase as the situation has been in past years. Between the periods of 2010-2019, Nigeria’s rice importation stood at 2.6Mt with import bill on rice alone at N467.96 billion at international price of $435.3 per ton. The rice importation bill is projected to increase by 93% or N433.97 billion by 2029.

Nigeria’s rice production is projected to increase by only 2.22% to 6.4Mt by 2029 up from 4.9Mt while consumption is to grow by 3.52% compared to growth recorded in the last ten years. To reduce rice importation to nothing, rice production need to grow at least by 4% in the next 10 years. However, experts believe that increase in supply can be made possible through growth in rice production that is based on multiple harvests per year; investments in locally adapted improved rice varieties and optimized management practices.

The growth in Nigeria rice production will also reflect on other African countries. Rice production in Nigeria is to account for about 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 projected to reach 25 Mt in 2029 represents growth of about 3.18% from 22Mt 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. Presently, in Africa rice is gaining more ground as major food staple, per capita rice consumption is projected to grow by about 4 kg over the outlook period.

In summary, the growth in rice demand as a preferred staple has been so strong that production intensification and higher yields per hectare has not been sufficient to fill the gap and meet the demand for rice. 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. Key word: rice policy, rice innovation system and acceptance of new agricultural technology.

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