Tuesday, February 04, 2020

5th Febuary 2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice Digital Edition

Kashmir Day

4th February,2020 Daily Global Regional Local Rice E-Newsletter

MOU study finds the fingerprint of paddy rice in atmospheric methane concentration dynamics
NORMAN, OKLA. - A University of Oklahoma-led study shows that paddy rice (both area and plant growth) is significantly related to the spatial-temporal dynamics of atmospheric methane concentration in monsoon Asia, where 87% of paddy rice fields are situated in the world.
Methane is one of the major greenhouse gases. It has a lifetime of 12.4 years and its global warming potential is approximately 86 times higher than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
"Rice paddy is a large source of methane emission; however, it has been a challenging task to attribute relative role of rice paddy in the spatial distribution, seasonal dynamics and interannual variation of atmospheric methane concentration as measured by spaceborne sensors," said Xiangming Xiao, a member of the Earth Observation and Modeling Facility at OU and a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology who coordinated this interdisciplinary study.
Over the past few years, researchers at OU developed annual paddy rice maps at 500-meter spatial resolution and quantified the spatial-temporal changes in rice paddy area in monsoon Asia during 2000-2015. By combining the annual paddy rice maps, rice plant growth data and atmospheric methane concentration (XCH4) data, researchers found strong spatial consistencies between rice paddy area and XCH4 and seasonal consistencies between rice plant growth and XCH4, including both single rice and double rice fields. Results from the study also yielded a decreasing trend in rice paddy area in monsoon Asia since 2007. This suggests that the change in rice paddy area could not be one of the major drivers for the renewed XCH4 growth since 2007.
The findings of this study demonstrate the importance of satellite-based paddy rice datasets in understanding the spatial-temporal dynamics of XCH4 in monsoon Asia. These annual maps of paddy rice are the first of their kind and could be used to further improve simulations of biogeochemical models that estimate methane emission from paddy rice fields, which are critically needed for analysis of spaceborne XCH4 data and simulations of atmospheric chemistry and transport models.
This OU-led study, "Fingerprint of rice paddies in spatial-temporal dynamics of atmospheric methane concentration in monsoon Asia," was published by Nature Communications. The lead author of the paper, Geli Zhang, completed a large portion of the work as a post-doctoral researcher at OU and recently returned to work at China Agricultural University, Beijing, China. Three graduate students, including two from OU, have also made contributions to the study.
For more information about this study, please contact Professor Xiao at xiangming.xiao@ou.edu.
This shift could fix both Nigeria's food shortage and its economic woes in one go

By Orji Sunday
Okey Ikenna, 28, teases a grain of rice with his fingers from a bowl in his grocery store in Lagos. The grain is a blend of milk-white and scanty black seeds in a bag embossed with flower patterns.
It’s part of a new economic design that Nigeria is molding. Since the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria has built its economy around crude, which contributes 90 percent of the nation’s external earnings and 70 percent of its total revenues. In the process, Africa’s largest economy neglected agribusiness and domestic food production, even as its population soared. By 2015, only 30 percent of the 7 million metric tonnes of rice — the country’s staple food grain — consumed in Nigeria was produced locally, the rest imported. But the serial shocks the country’s economy has suffered because of fluctuations in global oil prices is now forcing a rethink.

An instructor teaches rice cultivation for the Competitive African Rice Initiative in Kebbi State in northwestern Nigeria.
Private sector investments, government regulations, border control, loans and even jingles are driving a quiet but rapid rice revolution that’s fast helping Nigeria meet its food needs and could soon turn into a major export-based revenue earner. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has promised to invest $1 billion in rice production. He started in 2017, with the first major private production of an annual 225,000 metric tons of parboiled rice. In November, another wealthy businessman, Cosmas Maduka, launched a rice processing mill that’s expected to produce 120,000 metric tons by the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria won’t facilitate foreign currency transactions for imported foods, including rice. And to cement that move, Nigeria’s land borders with her West African neighbors have been closed to reduce smuggling. Since 2015, the government has offered loans to small-scale farmers. It is partnering with the World Bank to introduce jingles and programs on the radio to help rural farmers relearn their approach to the use of different seed varieties, pest control, fertilizers and chemicals, while also educating them about climate change.
These steps are encouraging local rice brands to take off like never before. New brands such as Mama Choice, Mama Pride and Pure Nigeria have just emerged over the past year.
“In the past, there was no way most of the rice in my shop would have been made in Nigeria,” says Ikenna, tapping bags of local rice stacked on a wooden threshold.  “But it’s happening.”
A worker at the Labana Rice Limited mill in Birnin Kebbi, Nigeria.
The results are showing up quickly. The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), estimates that Nigeria’s annual rice production has risen to 8 million metric tons, and at current growth rates could reach 18 million metric tonnes by 2023, which would allow significant exports after feeding the country’s 190 million people. By reducing Nigeria’s dependence on crude, the crop would fortify the economy against shocks in the global oil market, drive economic diversification, improve food security and create new jobs.
Changing a giant nation’s approach to its economy isn’t easy. For decades, Nigeria ploughed crude oil revenue into food imports even as domestic food production declined. Young people moved away from farms to instead take up small-paying jobs in cities. Smallholder farmers relied heavily on family labor and crude tools. In most cases, they produced just enough to feed their families. “Farming rice was torture in the past,” says Onyeneke Okorie, a rice farmer based in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Enugu. “It scared people.”
Local brands sold poorly because imported rice was cheaper, as well as better processed and packaged. Then there was a mentality crisis. “People loved anything foreign – not for genuine reasons,” says Omolehin Raphael, professor of agriculture at Federal University Oye-Ekiti. “They believed it was better.”
The efforts at reversing Nigeria’s apathy toward local production have been anchored in making agriculture attractive for young people and major investors who can help ensure that both the quantity and quality of domestically grown rice improve. “The agri-food sector in Nigeria as a whole is expanding,” says Kwaw Andam, Nigeria Program Leader and research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute. He links recent progress to “government protection of domestic production.”
For sure, there is still much to learn from global competitors, says Andam, before Nigeria can fully realize “a thriving, competitive domestic rice sector.” Nigeria has arable land, irrigation opportunities and a pool of youth. But there’s more to do. “The countries that have become competitive – mainly Asian countries –invested heavily in research and development and infrastructure.”
The effectiveness of some of the government’s measures is also unclear. Figures from the Thai Rice Exporters Association shows that Nigeria’s rice imports from Thailand fell by 95 percent, from 644,131 tons in September 2015 to around 23,000 tons in September 2017. Thailand is the world’s second-largest rice producer and was Nigeria’s biggest source of imported rice. Yet at the same time, Benin’s rice imports from Thailand doubled in this period, leading to suspicions that smugglers were using the small country to illegally bring the grain into Nigeria, despite border restrictions. And the 2015 loan scheme has failed in several parts of the country, with the government unable to recoup large amounts.
Still, there’s a shift for the better that’s finally turning Nigerian rice farming into an attractive profession, says Okorie.  “We now can compete with imported rice,” he says.

Quest for rice export

• Nigeria should make haste slowly

Description: Quest for rice export


For a country that only recently ranked among the world’s leading importers of rice, the quest for domestic sufficiency in record time would ordinarily be deemed admirable. Not so the frenetic race to join the league of exporters, even when basic infrastructure are far from being in place. That would be akin to putting the cart before the horse.
That perhaps best describes the press conference in Lagos last week during which an apparently upbeat agriculture and rural development minister, Muhammad Sabo Nanono, announced that the country was ready to join the league of rice exporters. He listed, among his reasons, the country’s 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day; another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day expected to come on board soon, and this aside other upcoming 34 smaller mills and countless other clusters in different parts of the country.
According to the minister, “Before the closure of our land borders, most of these rice milling plants were partially operating, but now, they not only operate in full capacity but are also expanding. And if we maintain the momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries”.
Like his predecessor, the minister may have succumbed to the pressure to overstate the reality of possible achievement.
No doubt, a lot of money has been poured into the CBN-initiated Anchor Borrowers Scheme. As at May, last year, over N190 billion had reportedly been disbursed to more than 1.1 million smallholder farmers through the programme. In all, over 1.3 million hectares of land were said to have been brought under cultivation.
Overall however, the indication is that the country still has a long way to go. The US Department of Agriculture and the World Markets and Trade, for instance, both put the total rice production at 3.7 million tonnes annually – and this against an annual demand of 6.4 million tonnes (representing 20% of Africa’s consumption). Unfortunately, the figures from the Federal Government have remained one of wild guestimates.
However the government tried to wish the problems away, the truth of the matter is that they have endured. Top on the list is relatively low output. Here, mechanisation remains a major drawback at 0.3 hp/ha, relative to 2.6hp/ha in India and 8 hp/ha in China.
In a rather graphic picture, PWC – the global accounting firm – says that increasing the mechanisation rate from 0.3hp/ha to 0.8hp/ha in the next five years can double rice production to 7.2 million tonnes. That, says the firm, would involve tripling the current stock of machinery over the same period. At the moment, that remains a tall order.
Add to the aforementioned the emerging complaints about the quality of local rice on offer. As it seems, there can be no further shying away from asking tough questions – about what our millers are doing to ensure that the locally produced rice is world-class, both in quality and packaging.
As for the farmers, they certainly can do with more help in extension services to boost output and to cut post-harvest losses. Moreover, to the extent that the current credit architecture for rice remains not only ad hoc but restrictive – there is a lot to be said of the role of the apex bank as sole promoter of the anchor borrower initiative.
The giant killer of course remains smuggling. By closing the borders, the government has since demonstrated its resolve to tame the monster. Unfortunately, despite government’s efforts to make  our ECOWAS neighbours see reason, they have remained unyielding, if not recalcitrant. Since the closure cannot be permanent, the government ought to be considering targeted measures as alternative to punish non-compliance.
Description: Quest for rice exportThe government will do well to address the identified challenges first before venturing into the highly competitive export market. In other words, rather than setting unrealistic time frame for itself, the quest should be more about developing a sustainable eco-system for the entire sector. That will not only put the country in better stead to sustain the current momentum but will supply the launch pad for our export aspirations.

Farmers benefit from China-Myanmar agriculture cooperation

·       ASEAN+
·       Monday, 03 Feb 2020
Farmers seen working in a rice field on the outskirts of Yangon. There has been quality yields for farmers in Myanmar after they had been planting paddy seed varieties from China and practiced related farming techniques since 2017 due to the healthy working relationships between the two countries. - AFP/Xinhua/ANN
NANNING/NAYPYITAW: As the time for growing rice in Myanmar approaches, Kyaw Thet Naing, a farmer who lives on the outskirts of the nation's capital Nay Pyi Taw, already has high hope for his harvest.

His confidence has grown from experiencing years of rich and quality yields on his five acres of rice, where he has kept planting paddy seed varieties from China and practiced related farming techniques since 2017.

"With our traditional ways of cultivation, we would normally produce about 60 baskets (1,260 kg) per acre. With China's assistance, we have added nearly 50 baskets per acre," he said.

In the past year, rice seeds and related techniques from China have become widely accepted among nearby farmers, he added.

In 2017, the Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GAAS) in Nanning, capital of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, worked with agricultural authorities in Myanmar as well as companies from both sides to build several research platforms in Nay Pyi Taw.

The platforms, which aim to introduce, select, demonstrate and publicize high-quality crop varieties from both countries, launched research projects targeting new ways to plant and grow crops more efficiently and with greener methods in pest and disease prevention and control.

Yang Mingtong, chairman of the Guangxi Haokay Biotechnology Co. Ltd., one of the contributors to the platform, said that the company has been conducting tests and plant trials for about 102 Chinese crop varieties, including rice, corn, cucurbit and vegetables, in Myanmar to see if they are suited to the local climate and soil conditions.

"For now, two rice varieties and two corn varieties we developed have received plantation permits in Myanmar," said Yang, adding that the high-yield hybrid rice from China helps improve the taste of Myanmar rice, allowing it to be sold at higher prices.

Ruan Shiyun, a farmer from a village near Nanning, planted two new varieties last year. "The yield increased substantially to around 3,000 kg per acre, versus 2,100 to 2,400 kg per acre in previous years, with improved disease-and-lodging resistance," he said.

The new varieties were hybridized from rice introduced from Myanmar and local ones in the China-ASEAN crop experimental station in Nanning.

Introducing Myanmar crops to China or vise versa benefits farmers from both sides, said Yang, noting that his company, among others, has tested 39 crop varieties from Myanmar for planting in Guangxi.

Meanwhile, bilateral exchanges and cooperation among scientists and technical personnel have laid a solid foundation for long-term cooperation between the two countries.

Earlier in January, Myanmar researcher Cho Cho San concluded her one-year exchange as a beneficiary of the ASEAN Talented Young Scientists (Guangxi) Program in GAAS and went back to Myanmar.

She now serves as a plant pathologist for the Department of Agricultural Research in Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI).

For the past two years, hundreds of Myanmar students and scientists gained opportunities to study and conduct research in China under programs sponsored by the Chinese government and companies.

Guangxi, the only region in China that boasts water and land gateways to ASEAN countries, attracted nine young scientists from Myanmar to advance their research. Most of them study bio-science, a field closely related to agriculture.

Soe Thet Naung, the Myanmar Consulate General to Nanning, said that Guangxi's climate is similar to that of the Shan and Kachin states of Myanmar, an aspect that could help fructify and deepen bilateral exchanges in agricultural research. He highly valued the bilateral cooperation in agricultural research between China and Myanmar. - Xinhua/Asian News Network

U.S. Rice Exports May Gain Edge as Australian Drought Reduces Production  

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA -- Last week, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) published a report projecting the lowest domestic rice production in decades, as the country enters its third consecutive year of drought conditions.  Australian rice production has grown in recent years, concentrated primarily in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, and targeting medium and short grain varieties bound for Asian export markets.

In a normal year, Australian rice competes with U.S.-grown temperate japonica in markets like Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and others because of some logistical advantages and similar varieties.  The recently implemented Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (the successor of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, without the U.S.) provides Australia a quota for access into Japan, further complicating that market for U.S. exports.

Australia's 2020 production is projected to be nearly one-tenth of its 10-year average, primarily due to increased water prices, estimated to be 19-times higher in January 2020 than in January 2017.  With lower production comes lower exports, projected to be 20,000 tons, down from 262,000 tons just two years ago.

"Australia's rice consumption is expected to fall as a result of the small crop, and nearly all of consumption will need to be met with imports," said the report.  "Because of the dearth of domestic rice, mills have had to lay off staff in Australia and sharply reduce milling operations."

USA Rice Director of Asia Promotion Programs Jim Guinn said, "As the U.S. rice industry has had its share of weather challenges over the years, we know just how debilitating it can be to domestic and export markets as well as operational infrastructure.  That said, after two years of seriously reduced exports by Australia, the U.S. may earn back some market share in those countries where we're both doing business."

USA Rice Daily

Watch one year in the life of a Northern California rice farm in one minute

JANUARY 31, 2020 08:34 AM 

A year in the life of a Northern California rice farm in one minute

The California Rice Commission released a video of all that happens on a rice farm throughout the year. The clips were taken at the McKenzie family rice farm in Sutter County. 
A year in the life of a Northern California rice farm in one minute
The California Rice Commission released a video of all that happens on a rice farm throughout the year. The clips were taken at the McKenzie family rice farm in Sutter County. 
The California Rice Commission released a video on Thursday showing all that happens on a rice farm throughout the year.
The time-lapse video used clips taken at the McKenzie family rice farm in Sutter County. Jim Morris, communications manager for the California Rice Commission, shot the footage and edited the video.
The nation’s second-largest rice producing state, California cultivates about 500,000 acres of rice, he said. Each year, the state produces more than 4 billion pounds of rice, and 97 percent of the state’s rice acreage is in the Sacramento Valley.
Morris said California rice growing provides 25,000 jobs and adds more than $5 billion a year to the economy.
As a side benefit, area rice fields are home to nearly 230 wildlife species.
Morris noted Sacramento Valley rice fields provide more than 60 percent of the fall and winter diet for the 7 million ducks and geese that migrate through the Central Valley.


Pak can export quality rice to curb food shortage in Africa

By  admin

Observer Report
Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has organized Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference on 30th and 31st January 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya. Following dignitaries were present on this occasion: This Conference was attended by huge number of delegates from many countries of the world belong to different business & trade sectors. As Kenya is the largest buyer of Pakistani rice, Pakistani rice sector was given special preference in this conference.
Following members from Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan were present in this Conference. On behalf of REAP, Rafique Suleman, Ex-Chairman REAP has given a presentation on Pakistani rice sector. He said that Pakistan is the 10th largest rice producing country of the world.
Pakistan’s annual rice crop is ranges from 7.0 to 7.5 Million tons. Pakistan is the home land of world’s best basmati & non-basmati rice. Pakistan exports more than 4.0 Million Metric Tons of rice amounting to US$ 2.0 Billion and our rice is being exported to more than 100 countries of the world. Staple diet of Pakistan is wheat and we have a good stock of rice surplus for export purpose only. Currently, rates of rice are increasing in international market, however, Pakistani rice is more competent than other origin rice.
Approx. 25% share of total Pakistani rice exports goes to African countries and Kenya is the largest buyer of Pakistani rice, whereas other 75% share goes to rest of the world. Value of Pakistani rice exports to African countries is approx. 600 Million US Dollars annually. Top African destinations are Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique & Côte d’Ivoire.

Myanmar sets 2.5 mln tons of rice export target this fiscal year

Xinhua, February 3, 2020
YANGON, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has set a target to export 2.5 million tons of rice in present fiscal year 2019-2020 which started in October, official media reported on Monday.So far, the country exported 986,345 tons of rice and broken rice, earning over 282.9 million U.S. dollars as of Jan. 10, said figures recently released by the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
From Oct. 1, 2018 to Jan. 10, 2020, Myanmar earned 245 million U.S. dollars from the export of over 842,342 tons of rice via sea routes while 144,002 tons of rice were exported through border gates with 37.8 million U.S. dollars of income.
During the period, 29 percent of Myanmar's rice and broken rice came from neighbouring countries including China, followed by EU member states, African countries and others, the MRF's figures said.
From 2018 to 2019, Myanmar exported over 2.35 million tons of rice and broken rice with over 709.6 million U.S. dollars' export revenue. Enditem
India’s rice export prices extend gains as Thailand battles drought
India's rice export prices scaled a near four-month peak this week on increased demand from buyers in Africa, in anticipation of a further jump in rates in Asia as a persistent drought in Thailand squeezes supply. Prices of India's 5-percent broken parboiled variety rose to their highest since the first week of October, around $369-$373 per tonne, from $366-$371 last week, also helped by a depreciation of the rupee. Buyers from Africa have been making purchases fearing prices could rise further due to the drought in Thailand, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Second largest exporter Thailand's benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices eased slightly to $432-$453 a tonne from $440-$460 last week, which was the highest level since June 2017. Traders attributed the slight dip to the fluctuation in the baht, the domestic currency, which has softened by 4% so far this year after gaining more than 8% last year. “(However) The prices remain high due to concern over supply and that has put off many overseas buyers," a Bangkok-based trader said. In Vietnam, markets reopened after the Lunar New Year holiday, with rates for 5-percent broken rice unchanged from two weeks ago at $345 a tonne.
“There haven't been any transactions as traders have not returned to work after the Lunar New Year holiday," a trader based in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said, adding activity should pick up from next week. Farmers in the Mekong Delta said they have begun harvesting rice of the winter-spring crop, and that the harvest will peak late February. Vietnam's rice exports in January are forecast to fall 18.7% from a year earlier to 350,000 tonnes, official data showed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Bangladesh undertook measures to combat a spike in domestic prices. Seven monitoring committees have been formed to keep prices stable in the domestic markets, the country's food ministry said this week.

Rice and broken rice exports fetch over 8.5 m dollars in one week
Between 5 and 11 January of this fiscal year, Myanmar exported nearly 30,000 tons of rice worth over 8.5 million US dollars, according to the Commerce Ministry. 
During this period, Myanmar exported nearly 12,000 tons of rice to Asian countries, nearly 3,000 tons to the EU and nearly 15,000 tons to the African countries. 
From 4 to 10 January, Myanmar exported over 5,400 tons of rice worth over 1.4 million US dollars via Myanmar-China border and Myanmar-Thai border. 
Rice export from Muse 105th mile border trade zone was 4,400 tons, 137 tons from Chinshwehaw trade camp and nearly 900 tons from Lwelgel trade camp. 
Till January 10 of this fiscal year, Myanmar earned 282.946 million US dollars from exports of 986,345.493 million tons of rice and broken rice—over 200 million US dollars from exports of over 684,000 tons of rice to 55 countries and over 78 million US dollars from exports of over 302,000 tons of broken rice to 46 countries, according to Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). 
Myanmar is dispatching rice and broken rice through border trade and marine trade.
Rice and broken rice exports to China via Muse border trade reached over 144,000 tons worth over 37 million US dollars, accounting for over 14 per cent of the total rice export. 
In addition, rice and broken rice export via marine trade route amounted to over 842,000 tons worth over 245 million US dollars, making up over 85 per cent of the total rice export.
In 2018-19 FY, Myanmar fetched 709.693 million US dollars from exports of 2.355 million tons of rice and broken rice. 

Japan provides grant for rice farming, solar power equipment to Nigeria

The other project initiated by SSSDO in Enugu will be implemented with Panasonic Corporation which will provide solar power equipment to the Hospital.

·       Devdiscourse News Desk

·       |
·       Updated: 03-02-2020 22:57 IST
·       Created: 03-02-2020 22:57 IST
The project initiated by NISD in Ekiti will be implemented in collaboration with Toyota Tsusho Corporation which will provide agricultural equipment from Yanmar Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Mahindra Agricultural Machinery Co. Ltd. to the farmers in Ekiti state. Image Credit: Pixabay

Japan signed grant contracts of US$335,878 for projects to provide Ekiti state with rice farming equipment to boost rice production and Enugu state with solar power equipment to enhance quality health care.
On 30th January 2020, Mr. KIKUTA Yutaka, Ambassador of Japan to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and representatives of two NGOs, New Initiative for Social Development (NISD) and South Sahara Social Development Organisation (SSSDO), signed Grant Contracts of US$335,878 in total for two projects under the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). One is to provide farmers in Ekiti state with rice farming equipment and the other is to provide Poly Hospital in Enugu state with solar power equipment, manufactured by Japanese companies. Since 1998, over 170 projects with a total amount of US$12 million have been implemented throughout Nigeria under the GGP scheme.
The project initiated by NISD in Ekiti will be implemented in collaboration with Toyota Tsusho Corporation which will provide agricultural equipment from Yanmar Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Mahindra Agricultural Machinery Co. Ltd. to the farmers in Ekiti state. The other project initiated by SSSDO in Enugu will be implemented with Panasonic Corporation which will provide solar power equipment to the Hospital.
At the signing ceremony, Mr. Martins Ogunlade, Programme Manager for New Initiative for Social Development (NISD), signed the grant contract on behalf of NISD, witnessed by Mr. Folorunso Bamidele Olabode, Honorable Commissioner of Agriculture of Ekiti state. Dr. Stanley Ilechukwu, Executive Director for South Saharan Social Development Organisation (SSSDO) signed the grant contract for SSSDO while Dr. Okechukwu Ossai, Director Public Health from the Enugu State Hospitals Management Board witnessed the signing for the Poly Hospital project.
The Embassy of Japan hopes that this public-private partnership assistance will contribute to increasing rice production in Ekiti state, enhancing the delivery of quality health care in Enugu state, and to strengthen the amicable relationship between Japan and Nigeria.
(With Inputs from APO)

A growing problem: Nigerian rice farmers fall short… 0
By Libby George

MAKURDI, Nigeria, Jan 23 – Thomas Tyavwva Maji is planting rice on more of his land in Nigeria’s Benue State than ever to take advantage of a surge in prices since the country shut its land borders in August.

But he says he cannot go much further. With no machinery or irrigation, limited manual labour and no spare cash for fertilizers, the 45-year-old is not expecting any dramatic change in his fortunes.

“We work until we get exhausted, manually we get exhausted,” said Maji, as a woman nearby beat hand-harvested stalks on the ground to separate the grains from the chaff.

The constraints Maji faces have bedevilled many rice farmers and millers across Nigeria for years. Despite government measures designed to spur production, farmers in Nigeria get far less from their land than other major rice growers and the West African country is only marginally less reliant on imports.

That’s a problem for a government that wants to grow all of its own food and boost the country’s agriculture, a sector that accounts for nearly a third of gross domestic product in Africa’s biggest economy.

When he came to power in 2015, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to help the nation become self-sufficient in rice – once a luxury but now a staple for millions of Nigerians.

In 2015, Nigeria’s central bank banned the use of its foreign exchange to pay for rice imports and has backed loans of at least 40 billion naira ($130 million) to help small-holders boost output. It also banned rice imports across land borders and kept hefty 70% tariffs on imports coming through ports.

In August last year, Nigeria went a step further and closed its land borders altogether to stamp out smuggling, often from neighbouring Benin, with rice being one of the main targets.

Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the measures boosted rice production to 9.2 million tonnes last year from 7.2 million in 2015, making Nigeria more or less self-sufficient, though traders can import rice through ports if they pay the tariffs.

Agricultural data specialist Gro Intelligence, however, put Nigeria’s rice output at 4.9 million tonnes in 2019, up 60% from 2013 but well below local consumption of 7 million tonnes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, expects Nigeria’s 2020 rice imports to rise 9% to 2.4 million tonnes, in part due to the high cost of unprocessed Nigerian paddy rice and elevated operating costs at mills.

In Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, supermarket shelves remain stocked with a plethora of imported rice brands.

In the markets where most Nigerians buy their food, sacks of Nigerian rice are piled high but imported rice is still available, even though some traders keep the foreign grain under wraps to prevent it being confiscated by customs agents.


Small-scale farmers such as Maji account for 80% of Nigeria’s rice production with a handful of large companies, such as Coscharis Group, Dangote and Olam, growing the rest, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In Benue state, virtually every aspect of Maji’s farming manual, from planting to harvesting to levelling out roads to take the crop to market.

It’s a similar story on many Nigerian farms, leaving the average yield per hectare at just over 2 tonnes – half the global average and a fraction of Egypt’s 9.5 tonnes a hectare, according to U.N. data.

Experts say there is little hope of improvement without significant investment in irrigation, mechanisation, roads and storage. More than 12% of rice is also wasted due to poor roads and inefficient harvesting, milling and storage, consultants KPMG said in a review of the Nigeria’s rice industry.

In a good year, Maji makes about 1.5 million naira ($4,900) – nowhere close to the 5 million, at least, a tractor would cost. Without irrigation, a goal so remote he doesn’t even know the cost, he can only plant one crop a year.

“At this scale, we will not even be able to fetch a tractor. Talk less of fertilizer and other chemicals,” Maji said.

According to the FAO, less than 1% of Nigeria’s farmland is irrigated, compared with a global average of more than 20%.

Small- and medium-scale rice millers, who account for more than 80 percent of the local market, also say they’re struggling to meet increased demand without proper equipment.

At Wurukum Rice Mill in Makurdi, Iveren Asan works alongside her sister, using a loud diesel-powered generator to drive machinery processing paddy grains into consumable rice.

Nearby, rice grains that have been parboiled in vats heated by firewood dry on tarps. She said new buyers from across the country had surfaced since the border closures – but producing more would require significant investment in new machines and the higher prices were not enough on their own. “We can’t meet the demand. We are doing the process manually, so we cannot meet the demand,” she said.


More broadly, experts warned that extreme measures, such as border closures, taken in the name of food security were hurting Nigerians, stunting the development of other industries and holding back foreign investment.

“The border closure has been incredibly disruptive,” said John Ashbourne, an economist at Capital Economics. “It stops industries from getting the imports they need, and it pushes up prices.”

The border closure is set for review Jan. 31 but the presidency’s Shehu said land frontiers would remain shut until Nigeria’s neighbours stopped smuggling on their side – and there was “no sign of compliance yet”.

Ashbourne said even some farming has taken a hit from government policies.

After glass was added to a central bank list of items importers cannot buy with foreign exchange, some tomato paste plants shut because they couldn’t source the jars they needed.

On another farm in Benue State, Abraham Hon, 51, weaves through rows of melons and corn before reaching his rice, the crop that generates the most money.

“The prices look pretty good,” he said, as men cut stalks of rice by hand and laid them in piles on the ground. “We expect more money in the pocket this year.”

But while he and Asan are happy with their increased income, they worry about the impact of higher prices on consumers.

A 50 kg bag of rice can cost as much as 24,000 naira in Lagos – nearly double the price in July before the borders were shut and not far below the monthly minimum wage of 30,000 naira.

And consumers, who already spend more than half their income on food according to the World Bank, are feeling the squeeze.

“We will reach a point where people who are buying rice can’t afford to buy rice. They will look at other alternatives to get energy and get food on their table,” Hon said.

“That in the long term is not in the interest of we, the farmers.” ($1 = 305.9000 naira)

(Editing by David Clarke)