NIGERIA – Nigeria’s annual rice production has increased to 8 million metric tonnes emerging as the leading rice producing country in Africa.

According to Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, President of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), the federal government has also mapped out strategies to ensure the country meets its 18 million metric tonnes production target by 2023.

“The production as of today by RIFAN and other relevant agencies record is 8 million metric tonnes.

“It has been established by relevant agencies that Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in Africa as the population of rice farmers in the country has also risen.

“With the ever increasing population and the total ban on rice importation RIFAN is targeting 18 million tonnes by 2023,” he said.

Mr Goronyo highlighted that the production level was attained greatly through a US$111.13 million (N40bn) fund disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Anchor Borrowers Programme to over 12.2 million rice farmers.

During the previous wet season, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) through a farming model implemented in Kebbi and Adamawa states assisted 26000 farmers as it targets to reach out 10 million farmers from 32 states.

 “It is a cashless project that provides farmers the needed farm inputs, which comprise improved seedlings, water pumps, chemicals and other services like land preparations also under the project, mechanised services was also be made available to farmers,” he illustrated.

Under the first phase of the programme, 6,800 hectares of land were cultivated at the cost of N203, 000 (US$564) per hectare, reports the Independent.

He said that all the participating states under the CBN/ABP had converted their Pilot Programmes into massive production resulting in high cultivation.

Goronyo expressed optimism to the total ban on rice importation by the government and collaboration with the signing of MoU between RIFAN and Nigeria Customs Service that more will be achieved.

Egypt produces approximately 6.5 million tons of rice annually owed to its extensive land base that sits on the banks of the Nile.

Nigeria ranks as the leading producer above Egypt, which holds the record as the only North African country that is full self-sufficient in rice production.

Other major rice producing countries in Africa include Madagascar at about 3.5 million metric tons and Tanzania as the leading rice producer in East Africa.

Rice production in Africa has over the last years not been able to keep pace with this consistent increase in demand.