The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected that Nigeria will become the world’s biggest rice importer after China.
According to the USDA, Nigeria’s importation of rice will jump up by a whopping 13 percent to 3.4 million metric tons.
The Rice Outlook report released on Tuesday, said: “China and Nigeria are projected to remain the largest rice importing countries in 2019, followed by the EU, Cote d’Ivoire, and Iran.”
The USDA also said that “Nigeria and Egypt are projected to account for the bulk of the 2019 import increase.”
This latest USDA rice outlook projection for Nigeria is however contrary to the optimism by the Federsl Government o become rice self-dependent in the nearest future.
It will be recalled that Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo had said earlier in the year that Nigeria will stop importing rice into the country within the next one year on account of Federal government’s interventions in rice production.
“We only import 2 percent of rice into the country presently and this is because we are funding agriculture and production of rice locally.
“Today, only two per cent of rice consumed here are imported while the remaining 98 per cent are locally produced, since we came to power, we have been funding agriculture and encouraging our farmers across the country so as to be self-sufficient in food production”, the VP had said.
According to data from Bloomberg terminal, rice production in Nigeria had increased more than 50 percent since 2012 to 3.7 million tons last year.
Domestic demand rose 4 percent to 6.7 million tons in the 2017-18 year that ended in May, leaving gap of 3 million tons.