Local rice cultivation in Nigeria SOURCE: AgroNigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari, in his New Year address to the nation on January 1, also stated that there would be zero rice importation this year. Rice is a staple food product in millions of Nigerian homes and many analysts believe that its local production is yet to meet the growing demand of consumers. In your own view, how can zero importation of rice be ensured in the country this year?

ABIMBOLA AKOSILE

* With the number of citizens who depend so much on rice and the fact that the country has just started improving its rice production, we need at least three years before we can cease importing rice into the country. By now the local production must have reached across the country with citizens’ awareness to patronise the local rice products. So the government shouldn’t rush into banning rice importation because when the time comes, those concerned needn’t be told to stop importation. I congratulate the Minister of Agriculture for a job well done.

Hon. Babale Maiungwa, U/Romi, Kaduna

* Government should create an enabling environment for increased quality production to meet and exceed local needs. This would make it affordable and lead to exports as well.

Ms Nkeiruka Abanna, Lagos State

* Yes, we can, but Federal and State governments must encourage rice farmers with necessary incentives to boost the cultivation in large quantities as well as seeing to it that there is market for their products by tarring roads for easing transportation. Lastly, federal government and the Customs must guard against rice smugglers, and they should also work with the AfDB to encourage massive investments in agriculture.

Mr. Feyisetan Akeeb Kareem, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State

* Rice is loved by all Nigerians. Its demand is high and ever increasing especially during social functions. Supervised small scale local rice farms all over the 774 local government areas are the panacea. Banks must give soft loans while government buys, processes, and store excess harvests to avoid glut, waste, etc. Regular border policing against smuggling, swing pricing and inputs like quality seeds, fertilisers, storage tools e.t.c are also key. Rice must be cheap, available and secured.

Mr. Apeji Onesi. Lagos State

* I believe the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has invested much in rice production under the government of PMB and it is time to reap where we sow in rice production. Rice importation ban is welcome, after all the countries we import their rice started from somewhere before they became exporters. Our government should invest more in agricultural production to make Nigeria a food-sufficient nation in a few years to come.

Mr. Gordon Chika Nnorom, Public Commentator, Umukabia, Abia State

* Food security is what we have been grappling with in this country for decades since after independence even when we did not have such population explosion. Our estimated population is now 190 million. Yes, the Federal Government has tried with the Anchor Borrowers Scheme to encourage rice production; a good scheme that should be taken to the nooks and crannies of the country. However, our population size means we have to work extra hard to stop the importation of rice in the next five years in order to cater for hungry Nigerians. Banning rice from this year will make the product be out of reach as the cost of a bag of rice will keep escalating. Importation must not be stopped.

Prof. Kate Nwufo, mni, Abuja

* Government doesn’t need to close the border for rice importation. If you want your products to compete in the international market you need to meet some standards including availability, friendly prices, and product quality. Then that means that you can compete with the rice producers around the world, which will translate into a flourishing economy.

Mr. Amwe Habu Anche, Kaduna State

* No, local production of this highly demanded product (rice) has not met the huge growing appetite of Nigerian consumers. But the challenge is smuggling, funding, pricing, delivery, ever-porous border policing e.t.c issues. Government must ensure soft loans, proactive private participation, and non-interference etc. Checking these problems will deliver the needed successes here. Otherwise burning the bridges may cause our losing this battle.

Miss Apeji Patience Eneyeme, Badagry, Lagos State

* By increasing our production capacity and making agriculture lucrative so that the youth can participate.

Mrs. Folasade Akinwale, London, UK

* Without subsidising rice after production, it would be absolutely impossible to achieve. A bag of 50kg Nigerian rice is only N1000 less than the imported one. In reality the Nigerian one is even more expensive, by the time you remove all the other costs involved in bringing in the imported rice. The Federal government can subsidise the finished product to ensure that it is a lot cheaper than the imported one. If Nigerian rice is sold for N10,000 for a 50kg bag, the imported one will no longer be viable to import so will die a natural death.

Mr. Buga Dunj, Jos, Plateau State

* It cannot cease as there is no part of the country herdsmen have not attacked and allowed cows to graze on crops with no government assistance to farmers, and they are afraid to go back for fear of further attack, and security men do not chase the herders into the bush. When will Nigeria adopt international grazing methods?

Mr. Dogo Stephen, Kaduna State

* It is a shame that we even talk about importation of rice.

Mr. Blessed Sobomabo Braide, Lagos State

* It cannot be possible due to issues of poor rice farming practices of the peasant farmers, low technology, poor grading, sorting, packaging, inadequate rice milling factories across all the states, and inadequate funding. Most rice farmers are currently experiencing low yields and poor varieties that cannot compete with international rice producing countries. The best way is to set up rice processing units, effective use of technology for preservation, cultivation, planting, harvesting and packaging. There should be general extension services that will increase production. Also, direct intervention of funding mechanisms will speed up production and help in developing the rice market.

Mr. Michael Adedotun Oke, Founder, Michael Adedotun Oke Foundation, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

* Although local rice varieties are tastier and healthier, the ease of access to sometimes cheaper imported products, and the volume of demand for rice across Nigeria makes it near impossible to cease rice importation this year. Government must be ready to subsidise local rice farmers and producers and also jail all rice smugglers to ensure improved local supply, which will lead to reduced imports.

Mr. Olumuyiwa Olorunsomo, Lagos State

THE FEEDBACK

Yes, it can cease: 2

No, it cannot cease: 8

Others: 4

Radical tip: Jail rice smugglers!

Total no of respondents: 14

Male: 10

Female: 4

Highest location: Lagos (5)

Next Week: Does Nigeria Really Need the Eco?

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) recently said Nigeria’s economic performance is crucial to adopting a proposed single common currency (Eco) in West Africa, because Nigeria represents more than 75 per cent of the GDP of the region. To some analysts, the Eco can expand Nigeria’s economic horizon across the region, even to the Francophone nations. Others believe it will boost regional corruption, and enhance cross-border looting and capital flight. To you, does Nigeria really need the Eco for her development process or not?

Please make your response direct, short and simple, and state your full name, title, organisation, and location. Responses should be sent between today (January 18 & Monday, January 22) to abimbolayi@yahoo.com, greatbimbo@gmail.com, AND abimbola.akosile@thisdaylive.com. Respondents can also send a short text message to 08023117639 and/or 08188361766 and/or 08114495306. Collated responses will be published on Thursday, January 25