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High expectations as Nigeria plans increased rice production
Nigeria is one of the largest consumers of rice, but rice production in the country is abysmally low. Government has been filling the gap through large scale importation of the commodity. But with the recent launching of the National Rice Development Strategy, government is already having a rethink, reports Banji Aluko.
Minna, the Niger State capital, was agog yesterday, Monday April 5, 2010, when a major plan for tripling domestic rice production, improving indigenous processing capacity and enhancing the marketability of rice grown and processed ln Nigeria was launched.
The governor of Niger State, Dr. Aliyu Babangida, at the event, presented the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS), with the outlines for the plan for transforming the production, processing and packaging of rice, which is a food item of choice for most households in rural and urban Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources had, last week, launched the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) at the U.K Bello Hall in Minna.
The objective of the NRDS, according to its document made available to the Nigerian Tribune, 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.”
According to a press release from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, made available to the Nigerian Tribune, “when faithfully executed, 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.”
The initiative, the Nigerian Tribune gathered, is a follow-up to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) which also resulted in the coalition for Africa Rice Development (CARD). The objective of the CARD, just like the NRDS, too, is to double rice production in sub-saharan Africa within the next 10 years. The initiative was launched in May 2008.
The CARD was jointly developed by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“The initiative will be implemented in full respect of African ownership and leadership embodied in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), and with strong links to existing structures, programmes, networks and initiatives such as Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and the African Rice Initiative (ARI),” a statement obtained from the website of CARD said. Nigeria is among the 12 pilot countries selected for the first phase of programme implementation.
According to the strategy document, Nigeria’s annual rice demand is estimated at 5 million tonnes, out of which only about 2.2 million tonnes is produced locally.
The annual rice supply gap of 2.79 million tonnes is, however, being bridged by importation. Nigeria is the highest importer of rice in Africa, and the second highest in the world.
“Now we have a holistic strategy for harnessing the potentials of a multi-billion sector for the benefit of our people and our country. “This strategy focuses on all points of the rice value-chain and provides the missing link for the development of this vital sector,” said Engineer Moses Adewuyi, Director of Agro-Processing and Marketing, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (FMAWR).
Also, according to the permanent secretary of the FMAWR, “available data indicates that annual milled rice demand in the country stands at 5 million tonnes while domestic production is about 2.21 million tonnes with a national deficit of 2.79 million tonnes.
“Most of this quantity has to be imported to bridge the supply and demand gap. Nigeria has an estimated 4.6 million hectares of land that is suitable for rice production but only about 1.8 million hectares or 39 per cent is currently developed for rice cultivation.
“Out of the land suitable for rice cultivation, about 3.14 million hectares can be irrigated but less than 50,000 hectares is currently under rice irrigation.”
Nigeria, however, has huge but untapped potential for rice production and processing, says the strategy document.
The Nigerian Tribune, however, gathered that to address these gaps and ramp up rice production and processing in Nigeria in a sustainable manner, the NRDS is prioritising three areas of intervention: post-harvest handling and processing; land and irrigation development and paddy production; seed development and other production inputs.
Under processing and marketing, the strategy is to support the establishment of modern rice processing mills “that will deliver high quality parboiled milled rice that can compete favourably in both domestic and export markets,” a source in the ministry said.
Also, there are plans for surveys to generate data for effective planning; conduct training for scientists, extension workers and farmers on latest techniques and best practices; focus on development of standards and grades for quality assurance as well as undertake advocacy and branding of domestic rice to convince Nigerian consumers that the domestic rice industry can deliver commodity that is comparable to imported rice.”
In the second priority area, it was also gathered that, the strategy is to expand land under cultivation for rice through clearing of more land, increase of farm power and mechanisation, and the introduction of public -private partnership for better management of under-utilised irrigation schemes in 26 states and of 11 river basin authorities. Large irrigation schemes exist in Anambra, Kwara, Kogi, Adamawa, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno, Bauchi Jigawa and Benue States.
But, rice yield in these schemes is minimal and below capacity. Therefore, according the NRDS document, in terms of geographic priorities, emphasis will be put primarily on irrigated and rain-fed lowland rice development.
“Although there is an urgent need to rehabilitate existing irrigation schemes and put more land under cultivation, processing remains the major bottleneck to increasing national rice supply. “The national processing capacity is low and huge processing gaps exist.
“For example, in 2007 paddy production stood at 3.4 million tonnes and only 1.4 million tonnes were processed.“The national processing capacity is 2.8 million tonnes of paddy.
Modern rice processing equipment need to be introduced to bridge these gaps,” the document also noted.
The NRDS identified three major components of the overall strategy that it will pursue in order to substantially increase rice production within the next 10 years.
They are, according to the order of priority, processing and marketing; land development, irrigation development and paddy production; and seed and other rice production inputs supply development.
Under the processing and marketing scheme, “emphasis will be on the establishment of new comprehensive rice processing mills that will deliver high quality parboiled milled rice that can compete favourably in both domestic and export markets as a means of expanding Nigeria’s processing capacity. “The development of standards, grades and branding of domestic rice to help accelerate the attainment and sustenance of desirable quality that will compete with imported rice. The use of advocacy to convince Nigerian consumers that the domestic rice industry can deliver commodity that is comparable to the imported rice, which will lead to trade expansion and ultimately open up the export sector,” the document noted.
For land development, irrigation development and paddy production, “the 11 River Basins have high potential resources for enhancing the rice value chain. The underutilised irrigation schemes located in 26 states have a total land area of 47,300 hectares suitable immediate for rice production.
“There is need to rehabilitate these schemes and allow them to be operated on a Public- Private Partnership (PPP) basis for efficient management. “Land clearing to expand hectarage under rice cultivation and increase farm power and mechanisation for enhanced timeliness of farm operations are also in focus.” For seed production and input development, “the strategy will subsidise and increase access to quality inputs, provide support to research institutes to produce breeder, foundation and certified seeds, introduce hybrid and high-yield rice varieties, and make chemicals and fertilisers available and affordable to boost rice production.
“Technical assistance would be provided to National major investments on rice targeted to Niger State include technical assistance by the Korean International Cooperation Agency for the establishment of a Modern Rice Processing Complex in Bida and two large scale Rice processing plants in a Public-Private Partnership (ppp) arrangement of the Federal Government under the N10 billion Special Rice Processing Intervention Fund.
In realisation of the above Tokyo conference, each participating country is, as a first step, expected to produce a National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) document in accordance with a given template to be employed by all member nations.
Consequently, a workshop on the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) was organised by the Nigerian National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) with sponsorship from JICA to harness contributions from all stakeholders in the rice sub-sector.Share