There is no better time to flood the market with Lake Rice, Lagos State’s flagship local rice brand. Lagos State is providing incentives for local food production.
Since its incursion into Nigerians culinary menu list in the 60s, rice has become the most popular staple food.
An average resident of Lagos State consumes rice at least once a day.
With the population hitting 26 million, the state government is looking for ways to boost rice production.
Governor Sanwo-Olu revealed that the government is in the process of acquiring an estimated 32,000 hectares of farmland for rice cultivation in seven states.
Sanwo-Olu, who spoke in Lagos during the World Food Day celebration in Lagos, listed the states as Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Kebbi as well as Lagos.
He said as a key component in its food security programme, the State government intends to accelerate the completion of the 32 metric tons per hour capacity Integrated Rice Mill in Imota in the next seven months.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji, said when completed, the mill would ensure a sustainable supply of wholesome rice at an affordable price to the people.
The governor said the only way to effectively fight poverty and hunger in the country was to boost agricultural production and prevent post-harvest losses and wastages.
According to the governor, Lagos State was one of the participating states in the World Bank -assisted APPEALS Project which was aimed at enhancing the agricultural productivity of small and medium-scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains.
He added that the project was also collaborating with Africa Rice for the development of Pure Ofada Rice Strain; capacity building for seed out-growers and rice-based products and as such no fewer than 35 farmers and officers had been trained while the Institute is expected to supply 200kg of foundation Ofada seed by February, 2020 for cultivation.
The rice value chain project is very important to Lagos State. To be implemented through the value chain by the private sector Lagos include supporting to construct storage facilities, rice conditioning facilities, rice processing plants, rice drying areas and parboiling processing facilities.
But the flagship project is the LAKE Rice that began in 2016. The bilateral initiative, which is projected to capture 70 per cent of Nigeria’s rice market share, was premised on harnessing the economies of scale of Kebbi State in rice production and the readily-available market in Lagos State.
Lagos State Government is taking delivery of LAKE Rice, in preparation for Christmas celebration, the Public Relations Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Jide Lawal told The Nation.
The rice will be available at sale centres across the state, including Agricultural Development Authority Complex, Oko-Oba, Lagos State Agriculture Inputs Supply Authority (LAISA), Ojo and the Blue Roof at Lagos Television (LTV) complex, Agidingbi, Ikeja. Other centres are Temu Farm Service Centre, Epe; Odogunyan Farm Service Centre, Ikorodu; Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere; Ministry of Agriculture Area Office, Ajah and Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba.
Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu said the partnership between his state and Lagos on the rice value chain that produced the Lake rice had solved the challenge of glut by providing a ready-made market for farmers.
The Kebbi State Government’s key focus is on rice crop production to meet the country’s demand.
Rice production in the state has increased. Last year, total production was 2.5 million metric tons (MT). The rise, according to analysts is associated with several government and donor programmes in the state.
Distribution of LAKE RICE
To increase the availability of Lake Rice beyond the 10 sales points, the state government sought the participation of major rice distributors by signing a partnership with them for the transportation, distribution and marketing of Lake Rice.
One of the distributors is the Iyaloja of Daleko Rice Market, Mrs Ibilola Sholaja who assured that distributors would abide by the terms of the agreement.
Scarcity of LAKE Rice
In June, farmers in Kebbi State had called on the government to intervene and save them over the fall in the price of paddy occasioned by the large volume of rice produced in the state during this year’s dry rice harvest.
The Chairman, Kebbi State Rice Farmers’ Association (KSRFA) Alhaji Muhammad Sahabi Augie said the rice harvested in the state this year was unprecedented compared with what was produced between 2016 and 2018.
He said: “We are very lucky in Kebbi the weather was friendly. This and other factors had helped our farmers to record good yield in rice production. The harvest was so high that it forced down the price of paddy at the market. The market is currently flooded with large volumes of bags of paddy. If you see the bags of paddy in the markets you will wonder if they are falling from heaven. Our farmers have never had it this good in their harvest.”
He added that despite the fall in the price of rice, harvesting is still ongoing in different farm locations in the state. ”In 2017, we produced about 2 million metric tons. I can assure you that with this bumper harvest we will achieve over 3million metric tons of rice this year,” he said. In Bagudo, Suru, Bunza, Yauri, Shanga and Ngaski, where farmers were said to have harvested their rice almost two months earlier, the farmers said they had never had it so good in the last three years.
Despite this, scarcity of `LAKE Rice’, has hit the Lagos markets.
Local rice traders, especially in Lagos and its environs, are lamenting the non-availability of local rice as demand and price for the product increases due to the shutting down of land borders in order to curtail the influx of smuggled rice, which was already threatening the survival of the budding Nigerian rice industry.
Besides this, the prices of local rice has risen in some markets in Lagos.
At the Ile Epo Market, Daleko, Mile 12, Isheri and Ogba, local variants of 50kg bag had risen from N14, 000 to N18, 000.
Speaking with The Nation, Augie attributed the rise in rice prices to the fact that paddy is being harvested now.
At the time of the border closure, he explained that the price of rice was high because it was not harvesting time. After last quarter, many farmers have gone back to farms and millers have also gone back to their business due to the demand for local rice.
Now that rice is being harvested, he said the price of paddy is sold for around N9, 000.
He said prices of rice and paddy are interrelated and when the prices of paddy fall, rice prices follow suit.
Rice takes three months before it grows to harvest stage. According to him, the harvest will bring down the price of locally-produced rice to curtail smuggling of foreign rice into the country and make it affordable for the common man.
Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), President Aminu Goronyo told The Nation, that there was an unprecedented harvest of rice that should crash prices across the country.
Goronyo stated that the target is to ensure dealers don’t sell a N50kg bag for more than N16, 000.
He said any dealer who sells a bag of rice for more than N16, 000 during the Yuletide should be prosecuted.
He said there was an agreement to sell 75 kg of paddy at N8, 000 and N8, 500 to millers for processing to rice.
The millers will spend between N2, 500 and N3,000 to process the paddy to rice and sell to dealers for N14, 000.
With their mark up, he said a 50 kg bag should sell for N15, 000 to N16, 000.
Goronyo said: “There are enemies of this country who buy and store this commodity just because they want to create artificial scarcity.
“No matter who is trying to hoard or create artificial scarcity as seen in certain locations, such persons will be disappointed.”
For him, the closure of the borders was meant to promote the growth of the Nigerian economy and the association wants to work with the government to ensure that the country attained food self-sufficiency in the rice value chain.
Sustainable rice production
In Lagos, the price of rice changes frequently over the year because of several reasons including strong syndicates, creating an artificial crisis, high-profit tendency, the high price of seeds and fertiliser, etc. In most of the cases, consumers enjoy low price in January, February and March.
Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Gbolahan Lawal said the state was determined to improve rice production and productivity in a safe and sustainable manner and enhance the value of rice products to meet consumer standards and market demands, based on research and development.
To this end, the government is working with public and private partners to transfer agricultural technologies to farmers to boost rice production.
The project aims to promote sustainable rice production, strengthen value chains, raise incomes of rice farmers, develop capacity, and contribute to improved nutrition. Participating rice farmers are expected to apply sustainable farming practices to increase yields, quality and incomes. Rice farmers should also be better linked to local markets.
Rice is facing a challenging time with increasing competition for dwindling resources such as land and water, unpredictable climate, farm labour shortages and lack of technical expertise.
Experts agree that to unlock the full potential of rice production and overcome the threats, all stakeholders must collaborate to find innovative solutions toward a sustainable sector that will transform lives for the better.
They said Nigeria cannot build a brand for its rice with its current small-scale production. Once the large-scale rice field model is successful, they want operators supported to re-organise the production process. In the value chain, major enterprises should play a greater role.
Citing Asian countries and their success in adding value to their rice industries, National President of the Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr. Victor Iyama believes Nigeria has the resources to grow rice but major problems are hindering the success of the industry.
The future of rice
One of the measures for the country to move forward is modernising the agrifood sector via the adoption of technologies based on Industry 4.0.
In the next five years, paddy field in Nigeria can reach between 10 and 14 tons per hectare (ha) of yield as farmers are going to use new technologies. They are going to learn about soil profiling, fertiliser utilisation, implementation of drones for land mapping and the use of artificial intelligence technology. Many emerging agropreneurs will be carrying out both upstream and downstream activities to provide a sustainable production for raw and value-added agricultural products.
Lawal said businesses to have invested in high-quality products from design and appearance to good quality of rice as well as maintain a high quality of rice during storage and trading. However, the number of producers doing that is not many compared to the large rice volume.
Therefore, the application of advanced technology in preservation and processing is very important in the rice value chain to increase to meet the strict requirements of major rice export markets, he said.
He said the state is restructuring production and focusing on links, processing, and market organisation.
Credit: The Nation