Every once in a while we receive guests either from the World Bank or the Project Head office that like to see first hand what is going on in the farms and hear what our beneficiaries have to say. On this particular trip we had a consultant representing the Head Office. He wanted to visit farms from all the value chains, this post is on the rice field trip.
Nigeria is the second largest importer of rice in the world, buying at least two million metric tons per year from exporting countries like China and Thailand. Yet Nigeria’s fertile land and rich agro-climatic conditions could easily produce rice to feed the entire country and generate surplus for the region.
Nigeria’s rice consumption is projected to reach 35 million tonnes by 2050, from five million tonnes currently, rising at the rate of 7 per cent yearly, due to population growth. It is estimated that 500,000 tonnes of rice were being imported into the country annually and that conscientious efforts were being made under the Agricultural Transformation Action plan (ATAP) to reduce rice importation to zero by 2013 and achieve 2.1 million tonnes local production over the next 12 months.
Figures from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture show that five million metric tons of rice is consumed annually in the country, which amounts to about 100 million 50kg bags of rice. Currently, the minimum price of this 50kg bag in the market is N10, 000, resulting in rice consumption of over N1 trillion annually in the country. The figures also show that 2.1 million metric tons of rice are legally imported into the country annually. This amounts to 42 million 50 kg bags of rice, at a value of about N360 billion.
Farmers have enjoyed a lot of government infrastructural support and therefore, are able to sell a 50kg bag of well processed long grained Nerica 8 for N8,000 to marketers who are always on standby to mop up the rice immediately after processing. But the bag of rice gets to consumers at about N14, 000 or more. This significant increase in price is due to “The high cost of transportation due to bad roads, in addition to extortion by the police, the local government council representatives and miscreants, contribute greatly to high prices of local rice. The market price of imported rice is still lower than locally produced rice, due to the adequate infrastructural provision for farmers in the foreign rice producing countries, and subsidies on rice production by foreign governments.
As part of the agriculture sector transformation strategy which is hoped would drive diversification of the economy from oil and particularly ensure the nation’s food security, government has planned to ensure that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in rice production by 2015. Government also hopes to create about 3.5 million jobs in the next 3 years with this agricultural sector action plan and noted that plans to replace imported brown rice and finished parboiled rice with locally produced brown rice by 2013 and later ban rice importation into the country by 2015.
Rice farmers specific inefficiency factors include age, farming experience, household size, education and improved rice variety, are key issues which constrain the setting up of the industry on a clear path of growth and development. These elements have beclouded the potentials of the industry for full realization of food security and poverty alleviation. It is therefore recommended that the Government and other relevant agencies should improve rice farmer’s access to improved rice varieties, modern rice processing technology, rice markets and extension services. Adequate financial assistance and credit facilities should also be made available to the rice farmers to enable them expand the crop output.
Clearly the above shows the huge potential for Rice to create jobs and lift millions out of poverty. The next gen African farmers will seek ways to capitalise on this opportunity by developing a workable model that harnesses the resources of both the public and private sector. A model that would ensure that all the links in the value chain work seamlessly to ensure the success of all stakeholders.
Thanks for taking time out to read.