Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4), a UKAid DFID funded market development project in Nigeria, has revealed the huge vacuum in import substitution for rice in the country, placing the deficit at over 3,000,000 tonnes annually.
The report which is the first of its kind by any development partner on the status of rice production in Nigeria, also highlighted the underlying systemic constraints to rice production in Nigeria.
Speaking at an investment roundtable in Lagos, the Project Director of GEMS4, Mr. David Joiner, said the projectâ€™s mandate is to improve linkages and bankability in the rice sector.
GEMS4 collaborates with agricultural businesses, investors and the Nigerian government to share insights and opportunities from Nigeriaâ€™s rice industry, as well as facilitate connections that can help reverse the ugly trend.
The Senior Project Manager at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Jesse Baver, explained that before now relevant data on the problems of rice production in Nigeria and the actual potential and investment opportunities were not available, necessitating the need for the study.
He said his organisation was excited to share insights from report of the study on rice production, describing it as a fast-developing market.
â€œThis event has given us the opportunity to present a rich amount of data and strategic insight on the Nigeria Rice market based on GEMS4 and Dalbergâ€™s research,â€ he said.
Speaking on behalf of DFID, Andrew Gartside, the Economic Growth – Private Sector Development Advisor, explained that this sort of event was new in the international development space but was in line with the organisationâ€™s new approach to facilitate private sector investment for development.
The forum, which brought together private sector financial institutions and government organisations such as Bank of Industry, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Kanivest, InvestJigawa, and NIRSAL, provided a platform for players in the rice value chain to present their business models and pitch investment plans to potential investors.
Some of the agriculture-focused companies which attended the investment forum included; Babban Gona, Afrifoods, Brent Group, Verdant Agritech, Thrive Agric, FalGate, and Sayaz rice.
GEMS4, a Â£16.8 million project managed by Coffey International Development, offers initiatives on providing solutions to address systemic constraints in the wholesale and retail market system. The project has the mandate to facilitate market system changes to address identified constraints, in order to encourage economic growth; resulting in the creation of 10,000 new jobs and increased incomes for 500,000 Nigerians..