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Rice Production Struggles to Meet Demands Despite Increased Local Production

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Nigerian rice farmers are facing a dual challenge: meeting the country’s rising rice consumption and tackling dishonest practices within the industry. Despite a significant increase in local rice production in recent years, Nigeria still relies heavily on imports to bridge the gap. Stakeholders in the agricultural sector are urging for a multi-pronged approach to address this issue.

Local Production Falls Short of National Demand

According to Shakin Agbayewa, Deputy Chairman of the All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Lagos chapter, Nigeria produces only 57% of the 6.5 million metric tonnes of rice consumed annually. This shortfall translates to a significant reliance on imported rice, impacting both the national economy and food security.

“We have a major problem in locally grown rice, we call it ‘internal smuggling,'” said Agbayewa. “A situation where local rice cultivators ‘rebag’ home-grown rice in foreign bags, to sell at a higher price.” This practice, he argues, not only undermines consumer trust but also contributes to inflated rice prices.

Closing the Gap

Agbayewa believe that with the right approach, Nigeria can achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. He emphasizes the importance of honesty within the industry. “If we are honest,” he stated, “we can adequately meet the demands for local rice in the country. If all parameters are equal, local rice farmers will be able to meet the local demands for home-grown rice.”

Boosting Local Production

Raphael Hunsa, Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), highlights the need for a collaborative effort to boost local rice production. He emphasizes the crucial role of young people in this endeavor.

“Increasing rice production requires commitment and involvement from all stakeholders, especially youth,” Hunsa remarked. He further highlighted the underutilized capacity of the Lagos State rice mill at Imota, which has the potential to produce 33,000 metric tonnes per hour but lacks sufficient paddy rice to operate at full capacity.

Solutions: Supporting Farmers and Attracting Youth

Hunsa urged the government to prioritize support for local rice farmers. This could include providing access to financing, improved farming techniques, and high-yield rice varieties. He emphasized reduce reliance on northern states for paddy rice.

Additionally, attracting more young people to rice farming is essential for long-term sustainability. Incentives and training programs can help make rice farming a more attractive career option for the younger generation for ensuring the sustainability and future growth of the sector.

Read Also: Anameje to Fed Govt: Import Food in the Short Term to Mitigate Shortage

If You Ask Me

Addressing the challenges of internal smuggling and attracting young farmers are critical steps towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production for Nigeria. By fostering collaboration between stakeholders, implementing effective government support programs, and promoting honesty within the industry, Nigeria can bridge the gap between local rice production and national consumption. This will not only enhance food security but also contribute to the nation’s economic growth.

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