Due to the recent flood in some rice planting areas of Nigeria, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has proclaimed that if appropriate measures were not taken to replant, the country may experience rice shortage in 2019.
"Rice is the mascot for Nigerian merriment. Add some pepper and tomato to it, and you have a lifestyle." -Fu'ad Lawal.
Rice is one of the staple foods in Nigeria, for both the rich and poor. However, since the economic recession in 2016, the quantity of rice the average Nigerians eats has dramatically changed. The price of rice skyrocketed from an average price of N9,000 to double its price at N18,000, due to a high demand and an unavoidable scarcity.
According to Agro Nigeria, Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in West Africa and the third in Africa after Egypt and Madagascar. Its average annual production of about 3 million metric tons falls short of meeting its local demand which is placed at about 5 million tons. This makes Nigeria the highest consumer of rice in the West African sub region and also, the second largest importer in the world, buying at least 2 million tons annually.
Nigeria imports from other countries like India, China, Thailand etc, spending an estimated 1 billion Naira on rice importation daily and a staggering 365 billion Naira annually.
Bear in mind, Nigeria also produces rice itself. Rice is a cereal grain that grows in swampy areas, in regions with high rainfall. The main rice producing states in Nigeria is; Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Benue, Taraba and Borno, others states includes Enugu and Cross River. The estimated amount of locally-milled rice is placed at 1.8 million tons.
The first ever Rice Mill industry in Abakaliki was established by Ebonyi state after its creation in 1996. The Rice Milling industry still remains as main avenue of revenue for Ebonyi state. However, though Abakaliki rice is quite well-known for its highly nutritive locally made rice, not as many people are as open to purchasing it as they are to imported rice. Why exactly?
In recent years, more technologies have gone into making the process of planting, harvesting and milling rice in Abakaliki as smooth as possible. Some rice vendors even claim little to no stones present in the rice.
Why more Nigerians should invest in Abakaliki rice
Abakaliki rice is just as nutritious as the imported rice, or even more. Its good taste and quality come from the moisture nature and salinity of the land of Ebonyi state. Abakaliki rice is also relatively cheap. Compared to a bag of parboiled rice that goes for N18,000 or more, Abakaliki rice is sold at N5000.
Ebonyi wants to power Nigerian Jollof Rice, but we keep ruining it
The increasing demand and supply of rice daily in Nigeria makes a perfect investment opportunity for farmers and sponsors, thinking of the best crop to grow this season. An increase in the production of rice in Nigeria for domestic consumption and exports will increase foreign exchange for Nigeria and in turn, develop its economy.