It is one thing to import products that we simply do not grow and produce or do so in very little quantity, but it becomes an issue when a product that we not only grow but do so in very large quantity becomes one of the most imported goods in the country. It is a norm in Nigeria that people buy more imported rice than the locally made rice. This norm is rather displeasing when Nigeria in fact grows and consumes more rice than many other foreign countries, but yet we still continue to rely on these foreign countries for the production of rice which they export back to us and make in turn profit. The question is why?
It was recently reported that Nigerian local rice is indeed scarce and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has blamed the scarcity in Nigerian markets on the disconnection between integrated rice millers and the supply chain. A Deputy Director, Rice Value Chain in the ministry, Ms Fatimah Aliyu, in speaking at the 2nd National Congress, Policy Dialogue and Inauguration of the Board of Trustees of Rice Assured Advocacy Forum (RAAF), facilitated by John A. Kufuor Foundation (JAKF) in Abuja said that although there was a huge market for local rice, integrated millers were reluctant to push out their products for fear of price competition with imported rice because most Nigerians preferred imported rice to local rice due to its cheap price. Another important question is why is locally made rice more expensive than imported rice?
The millers blame the high price of local rice on production cost, resulting from the poor power supply, high transport fare and smuggling of foreign rice. Ms Alyiu has therefore urged stakeholders in the rice value chain under the RAAF’s platform to brainstorm on the issue and come out with suggestions on how to tackle the problem. The first National Deputy President of RAAF, Rafau Lawal, also called for a policy to encourage consumption of Nigerian rice as is done in Tanzania and other countries. Mr Lawal said that one of the policy measures targeted is the branding of Nigerian shops for local rice. With joint efforts of the stakeholders and the Nigerian Government, the increased rice importation in Nigeria can become a thing of old.
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