Nigeria to import 2.9 million tonnes of rice

Nigeria’s rice import will drop by 3.3 per cent to 2.9 million tonnes this year, a report released on Friday by the Food and Agricultural Organisation has said.

China, which was the world’s biggest importer of rice last year along with Nigeria, would raise its import volume by 5.2 per cent to 3.2 million tonnes in 2015 due to higher demand in the mainland, the FAO said in its rice market monitor report for April.

Last year, China and Nigeria each bought three million tonnes of rice from abroad.

According to the United Nations food agency, the global milled rice trade this year is forecast to drop by 2.5 per cent from 2014 to 41.3 million tonnes, due mainly to good stockpiles or higher production in Asia.

Global paddy output in 2015 is forecast to edge up 1.1 per cent from last year to 749.8 million tonnes, the UN agency said.

Thailand is expected to be the world’s largest rice exporter this year with shipments of 11.2 million tonnes, followed by 9.3 million tonnes from India and 6.5 million tonnes from Vietnam.

As such, the three Asian nations would account for a combined 65 per cent of the world’s rice trade, down slightly from 68 per cent last year.

The FAO revised up India’s rice exports last year to 11.3 million tonnes from 8.2 million tonnes estimated earlier, making it the world’s largest exporter in 2014, followed by Thailand with 11 million tonnes and Vietnam with 6.5 million tonnes.

Nigeria’s purchases abroad are forecast to drop by 3.3 per cent to 2.9 million tonnes in 2015.

Rice output in China, also the world’s top producer, had been forecast to edge up 0.2 per cent to 208.5 million tonnes this year, the FAO said.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in January this year said rice farmers across the country had a new lease of life due to the transformation taking place in the sector.

He said over six million rice farmers had received improved rice seed varieties, boosting domestic rice production by an additional seven million metric tonnes.

He had said, “The rice revolution is taking place across the country, from Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Kogi, Ogun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Rivers, Anambra, Delta, Edo to Bayelsa State. High quality Nigerian rice is now competing favourably with imported rice in the markets.

“Our rice millers have taken advantage of these new opportunities, and the number of integrated rice mills has expanded from one at the beginning of this administration, to 24 today.”

The President also read the Riot Act to rice importers, saying all those owing the nation rice import duties must pay, no matter how highly placed.

He said under no circumstance would he allow rice importers to hold the nation to ransom.

“Nigeria our dear country will not be held hostage by rice importers. There will be no sacred cows under my watch. All those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay,” Jonathan said.

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