Rice is a major stable food in Nigeria and in most countries of the world.
Besides its consumption, it is equally a major raw material in the agro allied industry. A recent investigation by the food and agricultural organization, FAO, revealed that global consumption of rice was huge.
Countries best known for the cultivation of the commodity include China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan to
mention but a few.
In Africa, Egypt is a well known producer of rice.
There is no doubt, the fact that Nigeria like these nations, has the right climate and land mass for rice cultivation to thrive but substantially lags behind, thereby resulting in massive importation to meet local demands.
Southwest states, particularly Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun andLagos, rank among those with huge potential for rice cultivation, which
can force down the current high price, thereby making the commodity affordable.
However, whatever prospect that would have allowed rice cultivation to grow in these states was thwarted by the oil boom era, which affected
agricultural growth nationwide.
As the country now strives to revamp the agriculture sector, it is important that the southwest states map out concrete plans for
vast cultivation of rice.
The region should follow the example of states in the north such as Kebbi, Niger and Sokoto which have embarked on massive production of
Similar development is taking place in the southeast, where Ebonyi state has invested reasonably in the production of local rice.
Also recently, an ultra-modern rice mill was commissioned in Cross River State by President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is heartwarming to know that Osun, Ogun, and Ondo state governments have already started the production of rice locally.
Oyo State has also taken a step in the same direction, with the plan to set up rice farm in Oke-Ogun area of the state.
Of particular interest in this endeavour is the collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi states to boost local rice production and reduce over dependence on importation.
Government in the southwest states would need to take steps to encourage genuine farmers and the unemployed youths in addition to
giving out soft loans and subsidized farm implements.
Access to fertilizer and pesticides is quite vital to further enhance expansive cultivation of the crop.
To reduce wastage and facilitate hygienic production, the states should also assist farmers with modern rice processing equipment.
Establishment of storage equipment like the silos is equally important to guarantee food security and availability all year round.
It is, however, very important for all states with arable land and good climate for rice production, to engage their farmers in the
cultivation for both local consumption and export to increase foreign exchange earning for the country.