Tapping The Opportunities In The Rising Consumption Of Rice In Nigeria

More than anywhere else in the world, rice, the most widely consumed staple food in the world dominates overall crop and overall food consumption (measured by the share of rice in total caloric intake) in Asia. Nearly 640 million metric tons of rice is grown in Asia, representing 90 per cent of global production. Sub-Saharan Africa produces about 19 million metric tons and Latin America some 25 million metric tons.

What distinguishes Asia from the rest of the world is its great dependency on rice for the majority of the population. Accordingly, the world’s largest rice producers are China, 142.2 million metric tons and India, 109 million metric tons whereas both countries showed a considerable large consumption of the staple amounting to 240.4 million metric tons.

India was the largest exporter of rice in the world as in 2018, it exported 13 million metric tons of rice, which accounted for almost 26.3 per cent of the total global rice exports of 49.5 million metric tons. Despite the huge production of rice in China, it is the largest importer of rice with imports amounting 5.5 million metric tons in 2018.

During the past three decades, rice has witnessed consistent increase in demand and its growing importance is evident in the strategic food security planning policies on rice by many countries. With the exception of a few countries that have attained self-sufficiency in rice production, rice demand exceeds production and the large quantities of rice are imported to meet demand at a huge cost in hard currencies.

Rice consumption in Nigeria

Nigeria is currently the largest rice producing country in Africa with rice paddy production of 6 million metric tons contributing 0.82 per cent to the rice paddy production worldwide on 3.2 million hectares of area harvested across the country. Whereas milled rice production amounted to 3.78 million metric tons by year end 2018, consumption of rice by far surpassed production which is at 6.9 million metric tons, of which 43 per cent which amounted to 3 million metric tons of the staple was imported in the last year.

The main rice producing states in Nigeria are: Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Benue, Taraba and Borno, others states includes Enugu, Jigawa, Zamfara,  and Cross River. Other states such as Ogun, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Lagos are beginning to cultivate there lands for rice farming.

Since 2010, paddy rice production has been on the increase in the country. Within a 9-year period from 2010 to 2018, paddy rice production steadily increased from 4.5 million metric tons to 6.3 million metric tons in 2015 leading to 4.2 per cent increase from the previous year but with exception of 2012 when production increased by 17.8 per cent to 4.6 million metric tons in 2011 but declined by 11.25 per cent in the following year. Production further decreased by 4.1 per cent from 2015 to 6 million metric tons and since then remained at the quantity till 2018.

The consumption of rice in the country has continued to surpass other cereals in the country within the same period. Consumption of rice has remained at an average quantity of 6.06 million metric tons and an average increase of 262 thousand metric tons with an average growth rate of 4.32 per cent within the last 9 years.

At the same time, rice importation oscillated from 2.6 million metric tons in 2010 to 2.1 million metric tons in 2014 but with a decline of 34.4 per cent by 2013. More of the staple was being imported each year from 2015 to meet up with the high consumption of the citizen as it increased from 2015 by 42.9 per cent to 3 million metric tons in 2018.

As increase in rice production is a direct consequence of increase in harvested area of rice, and the industry continued to witness expansion in cultivated land mass.

This implies that rice farming is gaining more territory within states in Nigeria. Harvested areas of land for rice have expanded over the last decade. At the end of 2018, a total of 3.2 million hectares of land were already cultivated for rice in Nigeria.

According to the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh in 2018, he exclaimed that there was reduction in the quantity of rice imported into the country and through the measures put in place the country now has the capacity to save  about $5 million a day.


There has been corresponding increase in production, consumption and importation of rice even as population growth surges. The constant increase in importation of the staple within the last 3 years is an indication that Nigeria’s capacity to produce rice has not been able to meet growing consumption of the staple.

Hence, Nigeria is far from reaching self-sufficiency in rice production as the table below shows. Until importation of rice begins to reduce, only then can we say that rice production is starting to yield fruit. The importation can only reduce when the youths are ready to tap into the opportunities in the rice value chain in the country. The LAKE rice project for instance, has produced a number of millionaires in the country.

This article is an excerpt from the forth coming “Rice Industry Report” from BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU).


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