Agenda For Self-Sufficiency In Rice Production | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Our View

Agenda For Self-Sufficiency In Rice Production

independent newspapers,independent; APO
Posted: Oct 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Rice consumption in Nigeria has been assuming a phenomenal rise since 1970, creating a surge in the commodity’s importation in the absence of adequate local production.

Indeed, rice has emerged a critical component of the Nigerian diet that the Federal Government imposed a ban on the commodity’s importation in 1985, to facilitate and increase local production.

However, in 1995, the import ban was lifted as domestic production, despite its assessed improvement, could not meet the rising demand for the commodity. This policy reversal has, over the years, accentuated incessant importations, despite duty hikes variously effected by the government. In fact, as at the end of last year, Nigeria was spending N356 billion on rice importation.

Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the current President of Africa Development Bank and Nigeria’s Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, lamented that the country was “running a prodigal consumption pattern in the sense that we are spending billions of Naira everyday importing rice from Thailand and India, when we can grow that rice here”.

Already, several states in the country have been identified as suitable for the cultivation of rice. They include Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Kogi, Ogun, Ebonyi, Anambra, Lagos and even several other states in the Niger-Delta region where upland, lowland, Fadama rice, among others could be successfully cultivated.

Despite the current administration’s avowed intention to enhance significantly the local cultivation of the commodity, under its strategic focus on agriculture as an economic diversification tool, the gap in the domestic production and market need has not been significantly reduced.

We believe that disincentives which have made rice cultivation not to attract growers around the country must be addressed with administrative effectiveness and efficiency, to bail the nation out of the gargantuan importation saga.

Such disincentives that need to be urgently addressed include low mechanisation profile of cultivation; parlous infrastructure; weak institutions as exemplified by poorly-funded research institutes, public extension system and seeds certification. Others are high input expenditure profile like cost of credit, imported equipment, agrochemicals due to multiple taxes, tariffs and duties; and policy instability that makes decision making and planning to be highly uncertain, putting investments at risk.

Beside the current efforts being made by the present administration, the past initiatives of the immediate past government on rice cultivation scheme, under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda must be sustained.

Essentially, a mechanised large scale rice cultivation should now be exploited, concurrently with the establishment of mills to produce industry quality grade of the commodity, to enhance the competitiveness of local products.

Also, investment promotion agenda should be played up, to encourage both local and foreign investors in rice cultivation and milling.

The current initiatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry are commendable, as shown in the successful rice cultivation in Kebbi State. Local investors’ efforts, noticeably in Anambra, Ebonyi and Kogi States must be encouraged by the government at all the three tiers.

With sufficient political will power, the nation can reduce the need for rice importation to the barest minimum this year and subsequently become a net exporter of the commodity.