By Kenneth Afor
Oluwarotimi Fashola, team head, projects, Elephant Group, has disclosed that about 20 million metric tonnes of home grown rice is needed annually to meet up with the country’s consumption capacity.
Fashola noted that the country is currently producing 6 to 7 million metric tonnes of head rice and with the growing population demand in the country, the current production capacity of home grown rice will not be sufficient.
He said, “We are consuming about 6 to 7 million metric tonnes of head rice meaning we need 12 to 14 million metric tonnes paddy. With our growing population, we must be aiming at producing 15 to 20 million metric tonnes of paddy to be self sufficient. This requires increased productivity and increased hectares of land.
“Looking at our population and our consumption, we need to double our production capacity. This requires double cropping, that is, planting both wet and dry seasons that will require irrigation, complete mechanisation from planting to harvesting, increased milling capacity.
All these things have to be properly harmonised. Our borders equally have to be controlled to prevent or reduce to the minimal level of smuggled rice into the country.”
According to him, “To reduce the cost of production of home grown rice in the country, government needs to provide for farmers proper farm mechanisation such as planters, harvesters and affordable input and a consistent rice policy over a period of at least ten years.”
He however noted that more support is needed from the government to boost the rice value chain in order to make it more profitable for agribusiness owners as it is being practised in other countries.
“Thailand and India are good examples for rice. Thailand does a lot for the rice value chain. For example, the country has irrigation schemes for rice farming, they have over 70 research centres for rice, they have a bank dedicated to rice farmers,” he said.
He applauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on its rice policy initiative such as the paddy aggregation scheme 2 which has encouraged farmers to go into rice farming, with this, rice processors now buy rice from farmers to process for consumption.
Fashola made an appeal to the federal government to focus on the production of rice, maize, cassava and tomatoes in the country so as to boost the county’s GDP.