over period in Nigeria, the,pa consumption ·tsurpas few decades, inghas ca rice sava increased has in food become faster expenditure one thanof production the..leading Throughout , resulting food staples thisin a growing dependency on imports. By 2014, about halfof the rice consumed in Nigeria was imported. As the most populous country in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA), Nigeria has quickly become the leading importer of rice on the continent and, more recently, in the world.
This growing dependence on rice imports is a major concern ofNigeria’s government, and since the early 1980s numerous programs have been implemented to encourage domestic rice production and achieve rice self-sufficiency(or at least to reduce the growth in imports).In particular, three key strategies that have recently been adopted by the government are examined in more detail with regard to their potential long-run welfare implications for transforming the rice economy and making domestic brands competitive with imports:
1. Introducing public-sector interventions to stimulate paddy production through the dissemination and adoption of better seeds and other modern inputs.
2. Improving the postharvest processing and milling sectors to promote premium and high-quality local brands of rice.
3. Introducing import tariffs to help protect the domestic rice sector.
Nigeria’s Rice Trade in a Global Context
Nigeria has become the world’s biggest importer ofrice within the last ten years.As Table 1.1 shows, Nigeria’s share ofglobal rice imports has risen from 7 percent in the early years ofthe 21st century to 8.2 percent over the most recent five years for which data are available (2008-2012). Among the top rice importers, Nigeria is followed closely by the Philippines, Iran, Indonesia, and the European Union.
The bulk ofrice imports to Nigeria come from Thailand, Vietnam, and India,who together supply about 60 percent ofthe rice traded in global markets.The reliance on global rice markets raises serious concerns for policy with regard to ensuring food security and maintaining a healthy balance of the country’s foreign-exchange reserves.
This is especially true when faced with a dramatic rise in prices, as occurred during the recent 2008 food crisis. For rice in particular, prices rose by about 255 percent between 2007 and 2008,even higher than in the last major food crisis in 1974, when they increased by 200 percent (Headey and Fan 2008).
Importance of Agriculture and Evolution of Rice Policies
The discussion above shows that agriculture plays a dominant role in Nigeria’s economy. The role of agriculture as a key source ofemployment, food security, and rural incomes is primarily due to the richly endowed and diverse agroecological landscape in Nigeria straddled by two ofAfrica’s major rivers, the Niger and Benue (Figure 1.1).
Freshwater resources are relatively abundant in Nigeria due to these two major rivers and other large bodies ofwater. Large swaths ofland serve as river basins along these two rivers, locally referred to as fodamas, which are particularly suitable for rice production. Periodically, however, water access can be affected by droughts and/or floods (Kuku-Shittu et al. 2013).