NIGERIA – Nigeria’s minister of agriculture and rural development, Audu Ogbeh has said that the country is looking to exit rice importation by 2020 even as state government’s embark on mass production to boost food security, reports the Leadership.

The federal government is committed to enhance rice production in the country with plans to become a net exporter by 2020.

Nigeria has reduced rice importation by 90%, close to the 100% goal that is expected to promote self-sufficiency as well as fall in prices, said the minister.

This comes after Nigeria’s Lagos State revealed that it was planning to commission and start production for 32 metric tons per hour rice mill in February 2019, described as the biggest in Africa.

It forms part of the government’s initiative to self-sufficiency and food security especially through rice production.

The country has been making progress in efforts to stop rice importation including restrictions as a result of frustrations from smugglers who were not only hurting the economy but also exploiting the consumer.

The minister had earlier indicated that rice importation had dropped to 20,000 tonnes by September 2017 compared to 644,131 tonnes of rice imported in the year 2015.

Achieving self-sufficiency

According to government statistics, local production in the year 2017 stood at 2.7 million metric tons while the consumption rate has risen to seven million metric tons due to a rising demand.

In 2016, Nigeria projected to reach 2.7 million metric tons in 2017 if government policy of restricting importation was strictly adhered to.

According to the Nigeria rice production statistics, the imports have started to make up 50% of the local consumption rates.

However, after a policy turn around towards promoting agriculture, Nigeria has realised an estimated US$285.15mn as revenue from the value of rice produced locally by farmers in 18 states under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP).

Total paddy production in Nigeria in 2016 was estimated at 17,487,562 metric tons, leaving a balance of about 11.4 million metric tons after accounting for 12.4% of rice production wasted due to post-harvest losses.

Consequently, this left a total of 5.7 million metric tons of milled rice, bringing Nigeria’s rice production closer to the seven million projected milled rice requirement for 2016.

“The 2016 total paddy production estimate is put at 17.5 million tons with a marketing surplus (after post-harvest losses and domestic use) of 11.4 million tons (equivalent to 5.7 million tons milled equivalent), just below the total national demand for rice, which was projected to reach seven million in 2016.

This implies that the country is progressing towards its goal of rice self-sufficiency,” stated the Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4) report.