By Ruth Tene, Abuja
Efforts by the federal government to boost rice production in the country and discourage importation completely is yielding positive results as the nation’s annual rice production has increased to 5.7 million tonnes.
With this development, it is becoming obvious that the nation is inching towards self-sufficiency in rice production and will sufficiently start exporting the commodity to other nations in need of it.
Unlike in 2015 when Nigerians spent not less than N1 billion daily on rice consumption, the spending has drastically reduced in the face of increased consumption due to increased local production.
A report released by Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4), a programme funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), indicated that Nigeria has achieved a total of 5.7 million metric tonnes of milled rice, bringing the nation’s rice production closer to the 7 million projected milled rice requirement.
In the report titled, ‘Mapping of rice production clusters in Nigeria’, GEMS4 revealed that 18 states were selected based on their contribution to national production as per the 2015 Agricultural Production Survey (APS).
It said in the 18 states, rice farming was described as widely spread across 165 clusters and 2,812 sub-clusters.
Considering the value of rice produced locally, it concluded that farmers in the 18 states under consideration have generated an estimated N102.6 billion as additional contribution to Nigeria’s economy through rice production.
The report obtained by LEADERSHIP noted: “The 2016 total paddy production estimate is put at 17.5 million tons with a marketing surplus (after post-harvest losses and domestic use) of 11.4 million tons (equivalent to 5.7 million tons milled equivalent), just below the total national demand for rice which was projected to reach 7 million in 2016. This implies that the country is progressing towards its goal of rice self-sufficiency.
“Kebbi State led at 3.56 million metric tons for the wet and dry seasons production combined, followed by Kano at 2.82 million metric tons. Kebbi produced 2.05 million metric tons in the wet season and 1.51 million metric tons in the dry season, while Kano produced 1.86 and 0.96 million metric tons during the wet and dry seasons respectively over the same period under review. However, only 10 of the 18 states were involved in the dry season production, adding the 26.57 per cent of the total production”.
GEMS4 said it embarked on a mapping exercise of rice production clusters through researchers’ and enumerators’ visits to rice production locations in 18 states namely, Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, FCT, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara.
“The researchers expressed optimism that information of paddy production clusters will support the development of supply chains from nearby rice clusters around existing commercial rice mills or proposed new plants in the country. The consumption rate now is 7.9 million tonnes and the production rate has increased to 5.8 tonnes per annum”, it added.
Recently, president of rice farmers association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, attributed the nation’s increase in rice production to the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), noting that there was a total of 12 million rice producers and 4 million hectares of FADAMA rice land.
Goronyo said that the programme, since inception, had created economic linkage between Small Holder Farmers (SHF) and reputable large-scale processors, thereby increasing agricultural outputs and significantly improving capacity utilisation of processors.
The ABP was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015 in Kebbi with the aim of creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and SHFs of the required key agricultural commodities.
The fund was provided from the N220 billion micro, small and medium enterprises development fund.
ABP evolved from the consultations with stakeholders comprising federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, state governors, millers of agricultural produce and smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production.
Goronyo said under the ABP, RIFAN in the next 24 months would commence rice importation to West African countries, just as the necessary arrangements had been put in place.
“For self sufficiency, adequate and enough paddy for production, ABP which started in Kebbi state has been extended to 26 states. As a step further, RIFAN is in collaboration with some agencies to replicate the CBN APB programme in some states to increase production”, he said.