MUHAMMAD Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Tuesday says Nigeria may commence the export of local rice variety by 2022.
This is coming despite the nation’s unstable quantity in rice production. But Nanono said local production has been on the increase, and if the drive is sustained, the Federal Government might kick start the process.
“If we maintain the momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries,” Nanono said during a press conference after his working visit to Nestle Nigeria PLC in Lagos.
According to him, he was initially worried in terms of production of the commodity, “but what I have found out is that most rice producers have stocked rice for the next six months”
Based on his analysis, local farmers only stay off from rice cultivation each year between November to January.
“This means that before the stock is finished, dry season rice will be harvested, and before that finishes, the rainy season will return.
“We cultivate rice in a nine-month cycle; probably as we move on the cycle will widen, so we do not have a problem with rice processing.”
Though, Data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed an increase in local rice production, Nigeria is yet to locally erase the deficit.
According to a report by PriceWaterCoopers (PWC), Nigeria attained a peak of 3.7 million tonnes of rice production as of 2017.
As of 10th May 2019 the USDA through its 2019/2020 forecast predicted 7.4 million metric tons of local rice production. But, this figure, according to the statistics is lower by 200,000 metric tons compared with the rice cultivated in 2018/2019, pegged at 7.6 million metric tons.
Yet, rice import to Nigeria has continued to increase based on reports from Thai Rice Exporters Association.
But the USDA report affirms Nigeria as the largest rice producer in Africa and ranks among the top 15 producers of the commodity globally.
Meanwhile, the Minister said the Country’s land border closure had resulted in increased outputs through rising quantity of rice milling plants which were, according to him operating below capacities before the closure.
He, however, emphasised on the export plan stressing that “before the closure of our land border, most of these rice milling plants were partially operating, but now, they not only operate in full capacities but are also expanding”.
“As at today, we have 11rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day.
“In a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day is going to be opened, with another upcoming 34 smaller mills; then, we have clusters in different areas,” he added.
He further applauded Nestle for its role in assisting local farmers and job creations.
In his remarks, Mauricio Alarcon, Nestle Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, commended the minister for the visit.
He called for a stronger and robust working relationship with the Ministry stressing that the firm locally gets 80 per cent of its products.
“We source 100 per cent of maize for Golden Morn. Other locally sourced commodities are soya, millet, sugar, salt and cocoa.”