Even the Minister of agriculture and rural development, Audu Ogbeh has complained about the phenomenon saying:
“We can’t afford $5m a day for rice shipments in this country. It’s gone on for 40 years. And I assure you that it’s our reckless policy of importation that’s brought Nigeria down to where she is now.
“Those who keep talking of imports either don’t mean Nigeria well or simply refuse to recognise the fact that we can’t afford the imports.”
Why does the importation of rice continue though?
One reason the importation of rice might never stop is the reduction in the number of Nigerians willing to go into farming as a job. That number reduces daily, largely because very few see the possibility of financial gain in the endeavor.
The fewer farmers on the farm, the less rice we produce, the higher the possibility that Nigeria will need to import rice to catch up.
To keep up with huge demand for rice, farmers have to leave behind traditional methods and use necessary equipment for mechanized agriculture.
However, when the necessary equipment is not available, workers must do everything on his 15-hectare farm by hand.
“Sometimes the tractors are not available. So now I’m using manual labour. It’s not as effective as in the case of using a tractor and it’s one of the reasons I can’t expand,” Joseph Kudu a farmer in Nasarawa says, according to BBC Africa.
The above problems and the ones yet to be mentioned can all be traced to the huge consumption of rice in Nigeria. The rate at which Nigerians consume rice is almost unbelievable.
Nigeria imported nearly 17 million tonnes over the past five years. 2.3 million tonnes were imported in 2016 alone, and the demand was much higher in that year at about 5.2 million tonnes.
The demand is usually so high, importation looks like teh only way to offset the deficit of what is produced in the country.
4. Government intervention
Usually, when a commodity is so vital in a nation and the industry producing it is struggling it is normal for the federal government to intervene to help out, either with loans or grant schemes.
Storage facilities, easily accessible loans, transportation and other agricultural schemes need to be put in place, or Nigeria might continue to import rice.
Without government intervention, farmers will continually battle with high-interest loans from commercial banks to keep the farms going.
Members of the Rice Farming Association of Nigeria say they can only access high-interest loans from commercial banks. One farmer says:
“It’s too high. We end up earning nothing.”
Below is a video about rice importation in Nigeria: