Rice is one of the most consumed food in the country and the annual Rice Consumption in Nigeria is steadily seeing major increase.
It is the seed of the grass of species Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). Rice is not just one of the most consumed cereal in Nigeria but it’s also one of the most consumed staples, with consumption per capita of 32kg.
In the past decade, consumption has increased 4.7 per cent, almost four times the global consumption growth, and reached 6.4 million tonnes in 2017 – accounting for about 20 per cent of Africa’s consumption.
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As at 2011, rice accounted for 10 per cent of household food spending, and 6.6 per cent of total household spending.
Therefore, given the importance of rice as a staple food in Nigeria, boosting its production has been accorded high priority by the government in the past seven years. Nonetheless, significant progress has been recorded as rice production in Nigeria reached a peak of 3.7 million tonnes in 2017.
The increase in the production of rice has helped in catering for the ever increasing consumption rate in the country, considering the population level of her citizens.
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Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population of over 130 million people. Its domestic economy is dominated by agriculture, which accounts for about 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and two-thirds of the labour force.
Agriculture supplies food, raw materials and generates household income for the majority of the people. The external sector is dominated by petroleum, which generates about 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings while agriculture contributes less than 5%. Trade imports are dominated by capital foods, raw materials and food.
Rice has risen to a position of preeminence. Since the mid-1970s, rice consumption in Nigeria has risen tremendously, at about 10% per annum due to changing consumer preferences.
Domestic production has never been able to meet the demand, leading to considerable imports which today stands at about 1,000,000 metric tons yearly. The imports are procured on the world market with Nigeria spending annually over US$300 million on rice imports alone.
The demand for rice has been increasing at a much faster rate in Nigeria than in other West African countries since the mid-1970s (see Table above).
For example, during the 1960’s Nigeria had the lowest per-capita annual consumption of rice in the sub-region (average of 3 kg).
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Since then, Nigerian per-capita consumption levels have grown significantly at 7.3% per annum. Consequently, per-capita consumption during the 1980’s averaged 18 kg and reached 22 kg in 1995-1999.
Despite the catching up of per-capita consumption with the rest of West Africa, Nigerian consumption levels still lag the rest of the sub-region (34 kg in 1995-1999). Consequently, above average growth rates in Nigerian per capita rice consumption are likely to continue for some time.
In recent years, the trend in the consumption of rice has shown tremendous increase, with the year 2011 experiencing the highest growth rate (16.67%) followed by the year 2003 (10.98%) and year 2010 (10.34%). The annual consumption of rice in Nigeria can be seen on the graph and table below
Factors contributing to high rice consumption rate
A combination of various factors seems to have triggered the structural increase in rice consumption.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Urbanization as the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more and more people begin living and working in central areas.”
Like elsewhere in West Africa, urbanization appears to be the most important cause of the shift in consumer preferences towards rice in Nigeria. Rice indeed is no longer a luxury food in Nigeria and has become a major source of calories for the urban poor.
For example, the poorest third of urban households obtain 33% of their cereal-based calories from rice, and rice purchases represent a major component of cash expenditures on cereals (World Bank, 1991).
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2. Ease of Preparation
Rice is easy to prepare compared to other traditional cereals, thereby reducing the chore of food preparation and fitting more easily in the urban lifestyles of rich and poor alike. It is less time consuming compared to some other cereals and other traditional foods.
As such, rice has become the food of choice for breakfast mainly due to its ease of preparation and high calories. It is also the food of choice for students primarily those experiencing their bachelor or spinster lifestyle.
3. Ability to feed large number of people
There is literarily no event where rice is not served unless the celebrant decides not to serve it to his or her guest. This is majorly because rice has the potential for satisfying a large number of people while cutting cost as compared to other foods such as soups etc.
Also, rice can be prepared in various varieties such as jollof rice, peppersoup rice, salad rice, fried rice, coconut rice etc. thus, making it non-monotonous.
4. High Availability and Price
Rice availability and prices have become a major welfare determinant for the poorest segments of the countries’ consumers who also are least food secure.
In the past, rice importation was on the high until the Buhari administration decided to put it on the low in order to help the local rice farmers grow.
Thus, rice has, become a strategic commodity in the Nigerian economy. Consequently, the Nigerian government has interfered in the rice sector over the past few decades.
Mechanization: The Key to Increased Rice Production in Nigeria
Increasing the mechanization rate of rice cultivation in Nigeria from 0.3horsepower per hectare (hp/ha) to 0.8hp/ ha in the next five years, can double the production of the crop in the country to 7.2 million tonnes, a report has stated.
In order to achieve this, PwC estimated that Nigeria will need to at least triple its current stock of machinery over the same period. Yields have remained at two tonne per hectare, which is about half of the average achieved in Asia.
In addition, as population increases, along with rural to urban migration, ensuring food security in key staples becomes critical.
However, food security cannot be achieved by a system that depends almost entirely on human muscle power and other manual methods.
Globally, rice production has grown at an annual average of one per cent over the past decade, reaching 486.7 million tonnes in 2017.
Most of this growth came from Asia, accounting for 89 per cent of global output. China and India are the largest producers, each with a share of 29.6per cent and 22.6 per cent of global production respectively.
In the rest of the world (ex-Asia), rice production has risen steadily over the past decades, accounting for 15 per cent of total production by 2017, a marginal increase from 12 per cent in the last two decades. Global rice consumption remains strong, driven by both population and economic growth in Asia and Africa.
Over the past two decades, rice demand increased at an annual average of 1.2 per cent to reach 481.6 4 million tonnes in 2017. Therefore, the PwC report added: “Nigeria’s mechanization gap provides numerous opportunities for investment across the agricultural value chain.
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“To attract the required investment, the government needs to create an enabling environment that ensures mechanization is profitable.”
“In terms of priorities, the government should concentrate on: addressing challenges around land tenure and ownership, providing rural infrastructure and extension services, and ensuring incentives are transparent and accessible to all investors.”
The revolution of rice production in the country was triggered by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh had described the ABP introduced by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele as revolutionary. According to Ogbeh, with the ABP, rice revolution has started in the country.
The minister disclosed that there had been tremendous pressure on the government to import rice in order to meet the demand for the commodity, which was an indication that those mounting such pressure never believed that the ABP was working.
Ogbeh said that it does not make any economic sense to continue to spend scare foreign exchange resources on rice importation, when the country had huge potential to grow rice in commercial quantity, noting that each ship load of rice imported into the country displaces 12, 000 farmers from employment.
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