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Rice economy to hit $6.3 billion in 2025

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
08 December 2019   |   3:25 am
Nigeria's Rice economy is estimated at $5.2b and has been projected to hit $6.3b by 2025. However, the country is far from attaining the feat

Rice production

• Combined Improved Seed Production Capacity Stands At 100,000 Tons—Dangote
• Shift From Subsistence To Commercial Agriculture Needs Conscientious Efforts—Dan-Ali
• Research Institutions Need To Develop Nigerian Rice Varieties—Ijewere

Nigeria’s Rice economy is estimated at $5.2b and has been projected to hit $6.3b by 2025. However, the country is far from attaining the feat, as the industry is plagued by impediments that are capable of jeopardising its potentials.

At the third Agric Conference & Exhibition of Daily Trust Newspaper, with the theme: Repositioning Rice, Sugar & Dairy Production For Optimal Yield, in Lagos, stakeholders ascribed abysmal performance, especially in rice production to government’s policy summersault, noting that in terms of boosting local production, there is no clear information on what farmers need to do and how to do it, adding that there is urgent need for all the players to always put government on its toes.

President of Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Alhaji Sani Dangote, represented by the Groups Director-General, Dr. Manzo Daniel Maigari, who spoke on “The Rice Economy and Value Chain Issues,” said the country’s combined improved seed production capacity is 100,000 tons, satisfying less than eight per cent of the national demand.

He said: “There are some impediments that include: one extension agent to cover three times the number of Small Holder Farmers (SHFs) recommended by FAO; the mechanisation rate is at 0.3 horsepower (hp) per hectare, compared to 8hp in China due to challenges in accessing finance; 70 per cent of SHFs produce over one cycle due to low access to irrigation schemes; only 10 per cent of SHFs have clear access to markets through grower schemes and actor linkage platforms due to limited financing, inefficient data collection and low levels of farmer literacy.

“75 per cent of milled rice production is dominated by small scale millers with rudimentary equipment, thus impeding quality; poor branding and packaging limits off-take from large scale retailers and high-end consumers and smuggling of estimated one million tons of rice sold to local millers and retailers due to restrictive trade policies.”

The CEO/Editor-in-Chief, Daily Trust, Mallam Mannir Dan-Ali, who said despite various intervention projects by government, especially under the current administration, it is pretty obvious that government needs to do more in certain critical areas in the value chain, added that a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) has shown that the average yield for rice production in Nigeria remains at two tonnes per hectare, which is almost about half the average yield in most Asian countries.

“Put the above statistics side by side the fact that Nigeria is Africa’s leading consumer of rice and also one of the largest rice importer in the world, then you know that we need to take much more serious steps to develop the critical sector of our economy than we have done so far,” he said.

He said the country couldn’t achieve the desired shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture, without conscientious efforts by all stakeholders in the entire production, processing and distribution process.

“There is a need for a lot more action from both government and the financial institutions to stimulate increased funding interventions for the agricultural sector, in order to reposition the sector and enable it to deliver the desired value.”

The Co-Chair of the NABG, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, who chaired the conference, said to reposition the rice industry, there is a need for research institutions to develop varieties of rice that will be known as Nigerian rice.

He noted that the Agric system has almost collapsed and currently under the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and needs urgent attention to rescue it from fizzling out. “The border closure has put us in ICU, currently more people are eating locally produced rice and more farmers are cultivating rice…The country is in intensive care as a result of the border closure, it is we Nigerians that will make it survive. I believe that the sector is likely to emerge stronger and healthier from the ICU.”

The Executive Secretary/CEO, National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Dr. Latif Busari, who spoke on “The Sugar Economy,” said the country has the potential of becoming a net exporter of sugar as consumption in the country has been on the increase since Independence with an annual average growth rate of eight per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

He however, said the fact that about five per cent of the national demand for the commodity is produced locally, while the balance is imported with a huge foreign exchange on a yearly basis, poses a serious challenge to the industry. 

According to a communiqué issued at the end of the conference, it was observed that despite the country’s cattle population put at about 20 million, domestic milk production is not commensurate with the large cattle population, as only about 2.2 million is used for milk production.

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