If you ask, most Nigerians can hardly go a day without eating rice. Rice happens to be one of the food items that Nigerians consume the most. That is why this piece of information coming from the country’s ministry of agriculture will be a form of shock to most Nigerians.
The country’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has raised the alarm that some countries, particularly Thailand and India, are dumping rice that are as old as 15 years in the country. The minister was speaking at the 2012 annual lecture of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos. He disclosed that Nigeria had become the largest importer of rice in the world, warning that except the country embarked on aggressive import substitution programme for rice, it would be spending $150 million annually importing rice by 2050.
In the words of the minister, “A lot of the rice imported into Nigeria, especially from Thailand and India, is 10 to 15-year-old rice coming out of their strategic grain reserves. It is being dumped on our market and that is why it is so cheap. But as that happens, Nigerian rice farmers are being run out of business. Nigeria is now the largest importer of rice in the world. As our population rises, demand for rice is projected to rise from the current level of five million metric tonnes to 36 million metric tonnes by 2050… Unless Nigeria begins an aggressive import substitution programme for rice, it will spend $150 billion annually importing rice by 2050. The nation will be broke,” he warned.
Thailand, in particular, is one of the largest importers of rice into the country.