By Elizabeth Adegbesan
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected Nigeria to be the second largest rice importer come 2019.
The department disclosed this in its latest Rice Outlook released on Tuesday.
The Outlook stated: “China and Nigeria are projected to remain the largest rice importing countries in 2019, followed by the EU, Cote d’Ivoire, and Iran.
“Nigeria and Egypt are projected to account for the bulk of the 2019 import increase. Imports in 2019 are also projected to be larger than a year earlier for Benin, Burkina, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, EU, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Mali, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
“Global rice consumption (including a residual component) in 2018/19 is projected at a record 488.4 million tons, down 0.1 million tons from the previous forecast but up more than one percent from a year earlier.”
The projected growth is a matter of concern for the federal government, which plans to stop rice imports by the end of this year to save foreign currency.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) supported the course by restricting forex for rice importation and introduced the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CAC) to fast-track the development of the agricultural sector; enhance national food security; reduce the cost of credit in agricultural production; increase national output; generate employment; and raise the level of foreign exchange earnings of the country.