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July 26, 2011

Nigeria’s Lagos State may acquire land to grow rice

by Niki Moore

Nigeria’s Lagos state, home to the country’s biggest city, may buy land elsewhere in the nation to grow rice to meet the city’s needs.

The state is already introducing irrigation and encouraging mechanization to boost rice production, Rotimi Fashola, a consultant at the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Co- operatives, told the Rice Africa Outlook conference in Durban, South Africa.

“We cannot rely on imports,” he said. “We are looking to acquire land in neighboring states as Lagos is land poor.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is the biggest consumer and importer of rice on the continent. The country is forecast to import about 1.9 million metric tons of the grain this year, or about 41 percent of its 4.65 million ton forecast consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which also forecast production at 2.7 million tons.

“Lagos is a microcosm of greater Nigeria,” Fashola said. “Its 18 million inhabitants consume the most par-boiled rice in the world, with an average of 34 kilograms per person per annum.”

Fashola estimates of production and imports are higher than those of the USDA. Legal imports into Nigeria are about 1.6 million tons a year and another 450,000 tons are smuggled from neighboring Benin, he said. Production is 3.4 million tons, he said.

Bloomberg

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