Rice otherwise known as oriza sativa is a major staple food that is well embraced by half of the world population followed by wheat and maize.
Nigeria with about 200 million population, adore rice to the extent that hardly would a family not eat rice as part of the meal daily.
Towards this end, the nation could not be food sufficient in rice production and has to opt for importation as evident in the economic theory that when the demand for a commodity fall shut of its supply, the effects is scarcity.
To meet the demand, the nation therefore took its search to the international market particularly from China and Thailand.
Available records showed that local rice production is sufficient for the country in 1960s while the situation changes between 1970s and 80s due to the growing population.
However, most Nigerians like to consume imported rice compared to local rice varieties.
One of the reasons identified for the development is that Nigerian rice processors lack adequate technology of rice processing to meet international standard.
Besides this, the equipment available is often too expensive for the average farmers.
Others include problems with research, pest and diseases management.
No doubts Nigeria made remarkable achievements in rice production last year owing to the anchor borrowers programme initiated by the present administration ,which support farmers through inputs distribution and loans to boost rice production.
Local rice production continues to rise in states like Ebonyi, Kebbi and Kano leading the pack while Ogun recorded success by the end of 2017.
It is important to note that Lagos State Government partnered Kebbi State on rice production tagged lake rice to enhance food security as well as boost agro-economic activities in the two states.
All these are pointer to the fact that Nigeria with suitable climate has the potential to grow its rice internally with importation.
Also, Thailand rice exporters association recently revealed that within a spate of years, from September 2015 to September 2017, Nigeria’s rice importation dropped from 644.131 metric tonnes to just about 21,000 metric tonnes.
President Mohammed Buhari in his New Year message on January 1st this year informed Nigerians that government would ban importation of rice.
This administration targets a rice production of seven million metric tonnes this year. 2015 rice in Nigeria stood at 603 million metric tonnes.
Unequivocally, this hard decision would improve the revenue of the country and create employment opportunities for unemployed teeming youths.
But the question is the nation ready for this now, country, where the traditional way of farming, farmers relies on traditional way of farming?
Other pertinent question is why local rice so expensive is compared to imported rice despite increase in its production.
Without mincing words, banning the important of rice with a view to boost the nation’s revenue is a lofty idea, which requires logistic measures, so as not to create hardship for Nigerians.
It is on record that no fewer than 25 states out of 36 can produce rice in large quantities for local consumption.
Therefore, state government should swing into action of complementing Federal Government determination to produce rice abundantly and shun political statement of diversifying to agriculture without concrete steps.
While Central Bank of Nigeria should continue with its Anchor Borrower Programmer for local rice farmer, there is need to increase the funds, now that government is determined to halt importation of rice.
Both Federal and State government should intensify efforts of rehabilitation of rural roads to ease transportation of agricultural produce to action.
Research institutes saddled with the responsibilities of providing technical-know how to farmers should be proactive in providing training and orientation for rice farmers.
In addition, media has a role to play in encouraging people to patronize locally produced rice.
Finally, it is hoped that Nigeria with suitable climate for rice production will leave no stone unturned to cultivate its rice locally now that Federal Government is about to stop importation of rice.
By Iyabo Adebisi