Perhaps I should have spoken to my friend at the Agric ministry before I wrote my blog post yesterday. But I am not really a fan of the ‘African’ method of discussing public policy in private especially when there are a lot of information gaps.
Anyway, he sent me an email last night explaining the Ministry’s position and progress on the existing rice policy.
I just read your latest blog posting. Shame you didn’t make time to discuss the rice issue with me before framing your thoughts. There are many more issues which you did not touch in this write-up. I agree that an outright ban on rice importation makes no sense if you have a vibrant domestic production base. A lot is being done within the Ministry of Agriculture and in collaboration with key stakeholders in the rice sector; government, importers, large and small-scale producers and processors. We currently import about 2.1mMT of rice annually. This is the gap the Ministry is working to bridge by 2015. Last year, farmers grew an additional 1.1mMT of rice paddy during the dry season planting. The conversion ratio of paddy to grain is roughly 65%, meaning we produced about 715,000MT of rice during the dry season.
A heck of a lot has gone into refining the Rice Policy and I have attached two source documents for your perusal. One being the minutes of the last meeting held with rice stakeholders on refining the policy.
The Rice issue is complicated as most negative newspaper articles are sponsored by the guys who previously profited from rice importation. Evidently, it is not in their interest for the domestic rice production plan to work, but we are getting there.
Nigeria now harvests rice commercially during both main and dry seasons. Yields during main season is about 2.5/Ha and during dry season it is about 4-4.5/Ha. This season (main and dry) we estimate to grow 2.8mMT of paddy, which will yield about 1.8mMT of rice (mind you, we consume 2.1mMT of imported rice).
Only those who intend to poison the wells and scorch the earth would say the rice policy is not working. You will also see from the minutes of the meeting that we are reviewing the tariff structure.
Have a gander at the attachment
I also received another document detailing the minutes of a meeting between the Agric Minister and RIPAN (Rice Producers Association of Nigeria). Unfortunately the minutes have not yet been made public so I cant share them. As soon as they are I will share them. I think there’s plenty of important information there. Suffice to say they are working on reducing the tariffs downwards from next year.
I don’t think it’s fair to add comments on the above again as I have already had my say. So do try to go through the attached document. It will only take you 5 minutes or less.
Do have a happy 2014.