Nigeria unveils major plan to boost rice output
Abuja, April 6, 2010
Nigeria has launched a major plan to boost rice production, the country’s staple food.
Nigeria’s Agriculture ministry launched a major plan for tripling domestic rice production, improving indigenous processing capacity and enhancing the marketability of rice grown and processed in the country, according to a report in Commodity Online.
The major plan named National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) outlined the plan for transforming the production, processing and packaging of rice, a food item of choice for most households in the country.
NRDS was developed from a workshop organised last year by the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to harness the contributions of all stakeholders on how to transform rice production.
The NRDS project was sponsored by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with representation from other partners, including the World Bank, Usaid, World Food Programme, AFDB, UNDP, and Nepad.
The strategy document was produced as part of plan to double rice production in Africa in 10 years. This is an initiative of the Coalition for Africa Rice Development (Card), which was launched at Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad 4) in May 2008.
Twelve countries, including Nigeria were selected to participate in the pilot phase and were expected to kick-start the process with the production of a national roadmap for rice development.
The aim of the strategy according to the statement 'is to increase rice production in Nigeria from 3.4 million tonnes to 12.85 million tonnes within a decade, an increase of nearly 300 per cent.
This strategy should save the country more than $500 million expended on rice importation annually, as well as impact positively on food security, job creation, balance of trade, poverty reduction and national productivity.'
According to the strategy document, Nigeria's annual rice demand is estimated at five million tonnes, out of which only about 2.2 million tonnes is produced locally.
The annual rice supply gap of 2.79 million tonnes (or 56% of demand) is bridged by importation. Nigeria is the highest importer of rice in Africa, and the second highest in the world.
Nigeria however, has huge but untapped potential for rice production and processing, says the strategy document.
According to the NRDS, only 39 per cent of the 4.6 million hectares of land suitable for rice production is under cultivation; less than 50,000 hectares of the estimated 3.14 million hectares of irrigable land is under rice irrigation; and, on the average, less than half of the total amount of rice paddies grown in the country is processed.
Nigeria is offering to lease farmland to Gulf countries seeking food security and will allow investors to export all of their produce, the head of a private Nigerian agriculture consultancy firm had said recently.