Rice is a goldmine. In fact, it is gold. It means staple for millions of people and it costs the millions a large portion of their disposable incomes. And Asian countries which have perfected production, processing and packaging technologies currently dominate the supply chain around the world and have the lion’s share of the wealth from rice. Nigeria is also dreaming. One of the dreams is meeting home demand and stopping the forex expended on rice importation. The other dream is sharing in the wealth from rice by producing excess and exporting same to other rice-deficient countries.
The export promotion policy of the government is desirable, and a right step in the right direction, stakeholders have clearly said. Benefits include economic diversification, production intensification, higher productivity and multiplier effects on the economy. The multiplier effects are employment generation along the value chain, more economic empowerment for primary producers, and forex earnings for the government.
However, the preparedness and feasibility of Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and exporting the staple food to other countries by 2022 as declared by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Sabo Nanono, has been questioned by many, describing such a plan as a mere political statement.
Africa Rice Centre, Ibadan, OYO State, expressed doubt over the feasibility of the plan due to insecurity of farmers, COVID-19 outbreaks and poor investments in farm infrastructure.