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After Emefiele as CBN Gov. what becomes of Nigeria rice production

by Business News Report

By Omoh Gabriel

The desire of Nigeria to diversify its economy has been in the works for several decades. From Shehu Shagari’s green revolution to Obasanjo’s operation feed the nation, to Babangida’s Structural Adjustment Programme SAP, and now Economic Recovery and Growth Strategy. In each, there were major policy thrust which failed to yield the required economic adjustment. The bane of these efforts is policy inconsistency that does not allow for continuity. Each of the policy documents were very well grafted right from the days of National Planning, but implementation has been the core issue that no government has been able to address. 

My major concern to today is the issue of rice production. The CBN Anchor programme has come a long way. The question is how sustainable is it? The programme is fortunate to have the CBN governor reappointed for another five years. From available records the program would probably have been grounded were another person appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Recent happening points to the fact that CBN governors pursue what they see as the core mandate of the institution at the time they are in office. From the days of Abdul Kadir Ahmed of blessed memory to Joseph Sanusi as Governors in office, apart from core mandate of price stability, they ensure that bank staffs were accommodated and several real estate were built. But Soludo with his consolidation drive felt the CBN had no business in real estate and thus privatised them. He promoted banking as a one stop financial entity. On his exit Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who became the next governor believed Nigerian banks were too big and decided to break them into Regional, National and International. Thus the seeming gains of consolidation were lost. Today Godwin Emefiele is in charge and giving preeminence to the developmental role of the apex bank in Which import substitution is the core focus. He started by placing 41 items on foreign exchange restriction, and came up with Anchor programme. All in a bid to save the nation’s external reserves by producing locally what Nigerians have the capacity to produce.

The belief is that Agriculture can still be used as a catalyst for creating jobs, reducing unemployment and driving growth in Nigeria. The CBN initiative provides financial coverage to farmers without which there will be no incentive to boost rice production in the country. CBN records indicate that a cumulative sum of N55.526 billion had been disbursed to over 250,000 farmers who cultivated almost 300,000 hectares of farmland for rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soybeans, cassava, etc. since commencement of the Programme as at November 2015. The President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aminu Goronyo had said that annual rice production in Nigeria increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017. He said that in 2015, Nigerians spent not less than N1billion a day on rice consumption, adding that while  spending on importation had drastically reduced, consumption has increased because of increased local production of the commodity. The consumption rate now is 7.9 million tonnes and the production rate has increased to 5.8 tonnes per annum,’’  leaving 2.4 million gap as at 2017. The gap has been further reduced though figures for 2018 and 2019 are yet to be made available. The RIFAN president said “the increase was as a result of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme with a total of 12 million rice producers and four million hectares of FADAMA rice land. Goronyo said that the programme since inception had created economic linkage between Small Holder Farmers and reputable large-scale processors, thereby increasing agricultural outputs and significantly improving capacity utilisation of processors.  

His observation is collaborated by figures obtained from the United States of America Agriculture Department which monitors global rice production. According to the data on Nigeria in 2015 Nigeria’s rice consumption was put at 6.4 million metric tonnes while import stood at 2.1 million. In 2016 consumption rose to 6.7 million, 7.1 million in 2017 and 7.2 million in 2018. According to the data on import of rice in Nigerian in 2016 was 2.5 million, this fell to 2 million in 2017 Evidence in the market place suggest that Nigeria is near self sufficiency in rice production. The Nigerian rice programme was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015 in Kebbi, aimed at creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and SHFs of the required key agricultural commodities. The fund was provided from the N220 billion micro, small and medium enterprises development fund. According to Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4) report on Nigeria’s rice production from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, a programme funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), titled “Mapping of rice production clusters in Nigeria,” GEMS4 revealed that Nigeria is reaping from the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme and is on the verge of attaining its rice self-sufficiency target. A breakdown of the report, revealed that the total paddy production in Nigeria in 2016 was estimated at 17,487,562 metric tons, leaving a balance of about 11.4 million metric tons after accounting for 12.4 per cent of rice production wasted due to post-harvest losses.  Consequently, this left a total of 5.7 million metric tons of milled rice, bringing Nigeria’s rice production closer to the 7 million projected milled rice requirement for 2016. According to the report, 18 states were selected based on their contribution to national production as per the 2015 Agricultural Production Survey (APS). 

In those 18 states, rice farming was described as widely spread across 165 clusters and 2,812 sub-clusters. “The 2016 total paddy production estimate is put at 17.5 million tons with a marketing surplus (after post-harvest losses and domestic use) of 11.4 million tons (equivalent to 5.7 million tons milled equivalent), just below the total national demand for rice, which was projected to reach 7 million in 2016. This implies that the country is progressing towards its goal of rice self-sufficiency,” the report stated. Kebbi State led with 3.56 million metric tons for the wet and dry seasons production combined, followed by Kano at 2.82 million metric tons. Kebbi produced 2.05 million metric tons in the wet season and 1.51 million metric tons in the dry season, while Kano produced 1.86 and 0.96 million metric tons during the wet and dry seasons respectively over the same period under review. However, only 10 of the 18 states were involved in the dry season production. According to the study, GEMS4 embarked upon a mapping exercise of rice production clusters through researchers and enumerators’ visits to rice production locations in 18 states, namely: Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, FCT, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Kogi. Others are Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Ogun, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara. The researchers, according to the study, expressed optimism that information of paddy production clusters will support the development of supply chains from nearby rice clusters around existing commercial rice mills or proposed new plants in the country. A cluster is an agglomeration of various rice production communities or sub-clusters, located around specific geographic production continuum, sharing some natural resources, such as water and flood plains. 

Findings by GEMS4 revealed the responses of states to the federal government’s policy goal of reducing import dependence, particularly of rice, which drains about N1 billion daily on importation. Analysis of the report indicated a dry season production of 4,646,296.64 metric tons or 26.57 per cent, cultivated on 3,037,324 hectares of farmlands and wet season production of 12,841,265.18 metric tons or 73.43 per cent, cultivated over 859,624 hectares. It also showed that 1.43 million rice farmers were involved in the wet season, representing 17.7 per cent of farming families in the wet season in Nigeria. In the dry season, however, the estimated total number of farmers was 410,210, representing only 5.1 per cent of the total farming families. 

The question begging for an answer is what happens to rice revolution come June 2024 when Emefiele leaves office? What plans are on ground to sustain financing? As it is, rice production is largely in the hands of small holder farmers who cultivates two to three hectares of land. The CBN should graduate from small holder farmer financing to large scale farmers who are in business. The private sector should be encouraged to take the front seat of rice production. In ten years the CBN should be able to take rice production to an irreversible point that who ever takes over, will not be able to reverse the gains. Secondly, there is not yet enough eduction of the Nigerian masses as to the advantage of buying and eating Nigerian grown rice. The ministry of agriculture, The CBN, National Agency for Orientation should under take mass education of the Nigeria populace on the difference between local and foreign rice. If Nigerians know that local rice are more nutritious than foreign, and are made affordable, Nigerians will embrace locally produced rice and dump foreign rice smuggled into the country. In that case Nigeria does not need to close its border against smugglers, the market will reject foreign rice. Thirdly, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council should engage farmers and create markets for them in neighbouring countries. This is what will sustain the current drive. 

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