To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

May 08, 2008

Nigeria to increase rice imports

Nigeria says it will continue to aggressively buy rice in the international market to feed its 140 million people, for many of whom rice is a staple food. Nigeria, Africa's top rice importer, last week ordered imports of 500,000 tons of rice from Thailand and the release of 11,000 tons of grains from strategic reserves.

This time, the government expects the private sector to take an active role in rice procurement. Under the package of incentives announced by Agriculture Minister Abba Ruma, import tariffs on rice have been suspended for the next six months to encourage massive importation by the private sector.

"We are contending with two paradoxically contending situations," said Ruma. "One is to make sure we have assisted the Nigerian rice grower, while at the same time, in the next two to three months, there must be efforts to cushion the effect of the rising cost of rice.

"And it was on account of that the government now considered the option of suspending the levy, which is about 100 percent, such that importers will feel free. It is a private sector affair and the federal government is repositioning the private sector to undertake the procurement," he added.

The government sees rice imports as a short-term solution and has outlined plans to boost domestic food production. Nigeria, once an exporter of rice, is grappling with shortfalls occasioned by a lack of investment in agriculture, inconsistency in government policies and poor harvests.

The Action Congress, one of two main opposition parties, says food imports are not the solution to the looming crisis.

"It is not a well thought-out policy," said Lai Mohammed, who speaks for the party. "By importing rice you are attacking the symptoms, not the disease. Secondly, it was the same thing we did when our refineries broke down. Rather than fix the refineries, we started importing refined products and today we are addicted to [imported] refined products. So if we do not fix the real problem, which is agriculture, then there is now way we can attack the real problem."

The prices of grains, beans, and rice have doubled in Nigeria in recent months. The national bakers union started a nationwide strike on Monday to protest the rising cost of wheat flour and sugar. Bakeries will remain closed for one week.

Protests and riots over spiraling food prices have occurred in a number of African countries. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States has scheduled a meeting to discuss the food crisis in the region on May 19 in Abuja .

VOA

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP