Nigeria’s Rice Production Is Enough To Sustain Local Consumption
According to the ministry of Agriculture, over thirteen million Nigerians are involved in various farms across the country growing rice. The government is planning to increase that figure to twenty million by the end of the year while the government is targeting rice sufficiency by 2020.
We’ll be looking at rice production in our conversation with the Kebbi state governor.
Journalist – Governor Atiku Bagudu you are welcome to the program.
Governor – Thank you.
Journalist – Well the federal government plans to ramp up rice production and as one of the pilot states to flag-off the rice production in earnest, how is this going to work out?
Governor – I think it has been working out quite well because many states have ramped up rice production significantly to such an extent that no domestic miller small or large is unable to find enough paddy which is the main ingredient / raw materials for the millers. Many states have keyed in, at least 27 states have accessed to the Anchor Borrower facility put together by the Central Bank of Nigeria and even in those 9 other states, where farmers have not yet accessed Anchor Borrower facility for rice, significant increase of production has taken place because Rice is a crop that grows in the 36 states of Nigeria and FCT and that is where we are, we are confident that the current level of production is adequate to sustain domestic consumption.
Journalist- What is the current level of production because, you know why I ask because right now we have approximately 3.6 metric tons of rice being produced and that deficit of about one point something is still there and I think that is the reason that the federal government spends a lot of money to accommodate importation for now or something.
Governor- That is the narrative that has being going on but that is false because even when you don’t have adequate data objectively, a rule of thumb is where everyone who is milling can find paddy that is an indication that there is adequacy of supply and prices of paddy has not been going up in fact they are coming down. In late 2015 early 2016 paddy per metric ton is up to about 160,000 Naira now in some places it is 95,000 Naira and even in the most expensive places it is about 125,000 and like I said anybody who is looking for it can find it. Most of the large millers have at least in storage paddy that is worth 70% of their production capacity. So that is a rule of thumb competition. Secondly in most states where data has been measured about increase in yield which is the most significant impact achieved under this program has been that yields have increased from as low as 1 ton per hectare in many states to as high as an average of 7 tons per hectare so even if the hectarage under production remains the same that means that at least there is a fivefold, six fold increase in paddy production but we know that the success has generated investment. So I don’t have an absolute figure but those rule of thumb indices can give one comfort that there is enough in the domestic economy. The major problem is still smuggling. Nigerian farmers are currently competitive with farmers in Asia, but what Nigerian farmers do not have the ability to compete with is economic agents of other countries who are bringing substandard products that literally are poisonous and exploiting the gullibility of the average consumer who wants lower prices.
Journalist- Are there issues in the quality of Rice produced, is that why some Nigerians prefer those Rice coming in?
Governor- Absolutely not, they do no prefer it because of quality, for example Lake rice which is the product of the corporation between Lagos state and Kebbi state is sold mainly in Lagos for a long time and Lagos is the most critical Nigerian market. You can’t play around with it, you can’t be patronized if the quality is not good. But today, an average lagosian will rather buy Nigerian rice whether it is lake rice or other brands because in the last 2 years confidence has shown that the aroma you get while cooking rice can only be obtained when you are cooking locally produced Nigerian rice, and due to other quality issues. The Nigerian millers have done very well because they have increased the quality of milled rice and it is equivalent to the taste that is being imported. I have met with the distributors of rice in the local markets, particularly the women distributors and they hate it that they are selling imported rice, they hate it, because some of them have even visited Asia particularly Thailand and India and they felt that this is what our young men and women should be doing and we can do it better. They complain that the know that the imported rice is not as qualitative as the Nigerian produced Rice but what happens is that smugglers or economic agents who are not nationalistic and who do not play by the rules exploit the system and bring it to them at much lower prices than they would get Nigerian rice and that is why I use the word economic warfare because those people are only able to bring it at lower cost not because they buy it at lower cost not because they buy it low in Asia but because someone is playing with our economy.
Journalist- Now that we have the issue of porous borders and a lot of other issues that allow smuggling to thrive, what exactly do you think we can do because it looks like we are going some steps forward and several steps backward?
Governor- Collective vigilance. It is our responsibility to know that if we continue down this road, our young men and women will not find jobs and will not set up companies in Nigeria. So despite the best intentions and strong leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and the chairman of the National Economic Council, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and the efforts of security agencies, we also have to be vigilant and know that our domestic sector is being threatened by economic agents who do not wish Nigeria well whether in poultry, whether in sugar smuggling, name it. Therefore we owe it to ourselves to mobilize all Nigerians and people who love Nigeria to watch and fight and resist. One of the things that can help is to popularize the fact that Nigerian rice is better than imported rice.
Journalist-Thank you so much for your time