Despite government’s restriction on importation of parboiled rice, two million tonnes of the produce valued at N441 billion ($900 million) are currently contending with Nigerian local variety in the market. Benin Republic,
Nigeria’s closest neighbour, provides easy turf for smugglers to move things into the country. Ironically, most citizens of the former French colony do not consume parboiled rice, which arrives the country en route Nigeria in large quantities. In 2020, a total of 1.56 million tonnes of the grain valued at N350 billion ($780 million) were smuggled to Nigeria’s neighbouring ports, according to a data by Index Mundi, a global trade portal on import and export.
Although, Thailand Rice Exporters Association (TREA) lost 1.2 million tonnes of rice valued at $819.6 million in Nigerian market in 2019, following import restriction by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria is still facing two million deficit of the grain as local consumption has reached seven million tonnes.
To further gain ground in Nigerian market, Thailand exporters slashed the price of the grain as at June, 30, 2021 from $500 (N245,000) to $450 (N220,500) per tonne for importers, bringing landing price to N11,025 per 50 kilogrammes bag.
This is coming as Nigeria’s local paddy rice production increased by 77.8 per cent from two million tonnes in 2015 to nine million tonnes valued at $4.05 billion in 2021 because of government intervention through CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. It was gathered that the nine million tonnes was an equivalent of five million tonnes of milled rice, which was increased by 500,000 tonnes from 4.5 million tonnes in 2018 to five million tonnes in 2021.
The Federal Government had made moves to attract N250 billion investments in rice production following plans to establish an additional 14 rice mills in the country in 2019.
Meanwhile, the President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, had said that with the current production rate, Nigeria was poised to becoming a rice exporting country.
He noted: “Before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015, we used to produce just about two million metric tonnes of rice annually. “We can now boast of nine million metric tonnes annually; there is a clear difference and now, we can boldly say that Nigeria is selfsufficient in rice.”
The president was speaking at the inauguration of sale of rice paddy to millers at reduced rate jointly agreed to with CBN. He added that rice paddy was being sold to millers in 16 states at N190 per kilogramme to enable them mill and also sell to consumers at affordable prices.
Goronyo stressed: “We will sell the paddy to the millers at N190 per kilogramme as against the price range of N200 to N230 per kilogramme sold by others.
“The directive came from CBN that we reduce the price so that millers can also sell to Nigerians at a cheap rate.” Goronyo said that the current production level was achievable only because of courage, commitment and patriotism of rice farmers who remained on the farm despite security challenges. He noted that RIFAN members were able to surmount insecurity because the military and other security agencies gave support.
The Kaduna Branch Controller of CBN, Ahmad Wali, who represented the Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, explained that the bank had been supporting a lot of agricultural initiatives to boost agricultural production in Nigeria.
He expressed delight that rice farmers made impressive efforts to repay loans granted to them. Wali urged farmers in other value chains to emulate the rice farmers for the benefit of others. It would be recalled that CBN recently launched pyramids of rice paddies in Niger, Kebbi, Gombe and Ekiti states, while similar exercise is expected in the Federal Capital Territory, Ebonyi and Cross River states.