Strategies sought to boost rice production
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – NIGERIA has been urged to devise strategies to enhance the domestic production of rice.
According to analysts, the country was capable of sustaining local demand but lack of support for farmers was stalling production and putting pressure on the imports bill.
“To ease pressure on the foreign exchange reserves, and create employment, the Federal Government needs to employ effective import substitution strategies to boost domestic production,” said First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Capital said in its latest market update on Friday.
It noted rice was a staple food in Nigeria and consumed by individuals across all income levels.
The steady rise in demand is due to increasing population growth in addition to its ease of preparation and storage.
The country remains the second largest importer of rice globally.
The total demand for milled rice in Nigeria is estimated at 5,3 million metric tons (mmt) annually, with 3, 3mmt produced locally resulting in a shortage of 2 mmt.
Industry sources estimate annual average spending on rice importation at US$2 billion.
Currently, Nigeria has no fewer than 24 integrated rice mills across the country capable of bolstering the production process.
Approximately, 8mmt paddy rice was harvested last year.
In November the Central Bank of Nigeria launched an anchor borrowers’ programme for rice and wheat farmers across 14 states.
Under this programme, N40 billion (US$200 million) from the N220 billion in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund will be disbursed to farmers at single digit interest rates annually.
This initiative aims to boost output by raising the capacity utilisation of integrated mills.
“With the current macro challenges, there is an urgent need to address the domestic production constraints across the agric value chain as a whole,” FBN Capital said.
– CAJ News
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