Nigeria is now the highest producers of rice in Africa!!!
As surprising as this may sound due to her continuous importation, but it can be lauded as a progress made.
Yes, we all know there’s a rice revolution going on in the country in the last three years. We heard plenty of that on the campaign trail before the February 23 Nigeria presidential election which returned the incumbent to office. But many had thought that all were campaign stunts.
But it became real when Dr Harold Roy-Macauley, the Director-General, Africa Rice Center, Benin Republic, was quoted as saying Nigeria is now the largest rice producer in Africa, overtaking Egypt which had held the title, in the last one year.
“We now know that Nigeria is the largest rice producer in Africa because it produces 4 million tonnes out of the Africa average of 14.6 million tonnes of rice annually. Egypt, which Nigeria has edged out of the lead, used to produce 4.3 tonnes annually but suffered a decline of almost 40 percent in the last one year. The reduction in production was attributed to the Egyptian government decision to limit cultivation to preserve water resources.”
The good news in the rice sector may not be surprising to stakeholders already familiar with developments in the nation’s agricultural sector. But for others, it will encourage interest in what’s going on and how to be part of it.
It is a fact that attempts have been made by past governments to recreate agriculture through various schemes such as ‘’Operation Feed the Nation” and the ‘’Green Revolution” initiative of the Shehu Shagari administration during the second republic, among others. But none of the previous efforts created the desired impact largely due to inadequate financing.
This is a gap which has now been closed by the CBN under Godwin Emefiele. In keeping with his promise to run a central bank that would serve the growth and development needs of the country, Emefiele has ensured the CBN becomes a strategic driver of economic growth of the country. The CBN under him has introduced various initiatives for concessionary funding of agriculture, which is widely recognized as the sector that has the potential to drive economic growth.
As earlier stated, Nigeria still remains an importer of rice, the volume of rice importation into Nigeria has declined drastically, but she’s still insufficient in rice production.
As Roy- Macauley said, the African rice value chain needs to be better integrated and be capable of competing with imported rice in terms of quality. He stressed that the goal to achieving rice self- sufficiency is not just about on farm assistance but also involves introducing rice varieties that fit the diverse African agro-ecologies, improve irrigation facilities and disseminate rice growing techniques to farmers.
Despite the good news, Nigeria still needs to improve her distribution across the country as marketers and consumers still complains of the lack of the so-called locally produced rice in the market.