New Telegraph

Nigeria rice import stands at N255.46bn despite restriction

Despite some measures to curtail grain imports, a total of 1.56million tonnes of the foreign rice valued at N255.46billion ($555.3million) were smuggled into the country this year through neighbouring countries.


Findings revealed that the Nigeria had been able to produce 76.4 per cent of its consumption, leaving a total of 23.6 per cent shortfall. It was gathered that 80 per cent of the smuggled grain was imported from india through Benin, following crash in price of its rice from $503 to $358 per tonne as Thailand and Vietnam prices stood at $507 per tonne and $495 per tonne respectively as at Thursday, last week.


Amid import restriction by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), smuggling of the grain from neighbouring countries to Nigeria is still on the increase. Last year, the country’s rice import was 1.3 million but was increased in 2020 by 16.67 per cent or 1.56million tonnes.


Statistics by a global trade portal, Index Mundi, revealed that the country was able to produce 5.04million tonnes of the grain as at November, 2020, while consumption stood at 6.6million tonnes.


President of the Indian Rice Exporters Association, BV Krishna Rao, explained that between March and September this year, non-basmati shipment was at 5.08 million tonne and was higher than the 5.04 million tonnes projected for 2020.


He added that countries like Nigeria, Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone in West Africa had become the traditional buyers of non-basmati rice from India.


However, as at October, 2020, it was gathered that locally milled rice production had reached 5.04million tonnes or N1.15trillion ($2.51billion) because of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s anchor borrowers’ scheme which boosted local production 600,000 tonnes.


Within one year, the country saved N709.5billion ($1.94billion) from rice importation last year when the milled rice production reached 4.8million tonnes.


The National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata, said that smuggling of foreign rice would soon come down to zero level, while the local rice would fill the gap conveniently if farmers received necessary support from government


The chairman urged all stakeholders to join in the campaign against the activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitisation to ensure attitudinal change on the part of the outlaws.


It would be recalled that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, had explained in Abuja that significant progress had been made to improve agric production since the inception of the present administration.


He noted: “To boost food security, Nigeria has curbed imports and has established a robust rice production programme to encourage more rice production at home. “Effort in this direction is starting to show results as Nigeria is now Africa’s largest producer of rice.


The country is also the largest producer of cassava in the world.” Last year, the Federal Government made moves to attract N250 billion investments in rice production following plans to establish an additional 14 rice mills in the country. However, the price of the grain went up this year because of heavy rain and flood destroying crops in the northern part of the country.


The Senior Research Analyst, Financial Derivatives Company (FDI), Temitope Olugbile, had said that scarcity of rice should be expected as 450,000 hectares of rice or two million tonnes had been washed away in Kebbi state out of the expected 2.5 million tonnes, noting that this would lead to a high demand for the scarce commodity and price increase.


Nevertheless, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Bulama Maina, said in Maiduguri that Borno had the capacity to deliver Nigeria’s rice requirements with continuous support by the Federal Government.


Maina said: “Borno has a vast and fertile land for rice and wheat production in Nigeria and West Africa in general. The land along the shores of Lake Chad is fertile and can be cultivated without fertiliser.


“If there is security, farmers can make use of the Chad Basin irrigation schemes in Abadam, New Marte and Dikwa. We have over 50,000 registered rice farmers in Borno.”

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