Rice in Nigeria: Industry Dynamics

Rice is one of the most important food commodities in West Africa. Studies conducted in Nigeria re-veal that rice constitutes over 20% of total food expenditure among urban and rural households. The demand for rice has grown significantly over the last 40 years due to changing consumer dietary patterns and population growth. In 2014, the annual rice de-mand in Nigeria was estimated at 5.9 million MT. However, only an estimated 2.7 million MT of milled rice was produced locally, leading to a demand-supply deficit that was filled by imports. In 2014, Ni-geria imported 2.4 million MT of milled rice from countries including Thailand and India.

Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in West Africa and pro-duced 4.3 million MT of rice paddy last year. The average yield in the country is 1.8 MT per hectare, which is significantly lower than best practice yields of 9.2 MT per hectare gener-ated in Egypt. Although the crop grows well across Nigeria, the main areas of cultivation are the middle belt and northern states of Benue, Kaduna, Niger and Taraba, as well as the south eastern states of Enugu, Cross River and Ebonyi.

Paddy production is dominated by smallholder farmers, who use poor agronomic practices. Rice can be grown all year round in Nigeria, with the use of irrigation, which is an increasingly popular practice in the north. It requires wet conditions to grow, so it is planted during the rainy season (March-October) in the absence of irrigation. Yields depend on the ecological zone that the rice is planted in as well as the production system. 77% of the farmed area of rice in Nigeria is rain-fed, of which 47% is lowland and 30% is upland. Although rain-fed production systems are the most widely adopted in Nigeria, irrigated produc-tion systems are the highest yielding.

October 1, 2015

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