March 15, 2002
Nigeria’s milled rice production for marketing year (MY) 2001/02 is estimated at 2.1 million tons, up 100,000 tons from last year. Rainfall and rice production in Nigeria was good in 2001, except for isolated reports of flooding in some regions. The corresponding vegetation growth was near average as indicated by satellite imagery during October's harvest (Figure 1). Rice yields also increased due to growers using improved rice varieties. The National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) at Badeggi has continued to introduce farmers to improved rice varieties for different ecologies. Their improvements include medium- to long-grain rice varieties tolerant to blast, the most damaging rice disease in Nigeria.
Figure 1. Harvest Vegetation Growth Compared to Average Vegetation Conditions
Nigeria is West Africa’s largest producer of rice, producing an average of 3.2 million tons of paddy rice for the past 5-years (rice time series). Rice cultivation is widespread within the country (rice production map), extending from the northern to southern zones with most rice grown in the eastern and middle belt of the country (Figure 2). Domestic production is constrained by low-input and crop management techniques by small scale rice farmers, as well as lack of water control techniques.
Figure 2. Coarse Grain Crop Zones in Nigeria
Nigeria has the capacity to be self-sufficient in rice production as virtually all ecologies in the country are suitable for rice cultivation (Nigeria crop ecozones). Rice in Nigeria is typically planted from April-May and harvested from August-November (Nigeria crop calendar and crop zone descriptions). Rainfed upland rice accounts for approximately 25 percent of the harvested area; rainfed lowland systems account for 50 percent; irrigated systems account for 16 percent; and deepwater/mangrove swamps account for less than 10 percent of the total rice area. Rainfed lowland systems include the broad valley bottoms, or fadama (lowlands) in the north; and the flood plains along the Niger and Benue River systems. Irrigated systems include a few large-scale irrigation schemes in the north and small-scale systems located on the inland valley bottoms in the south (FAO rice web).
Over the past several decades, rice has established itself as a preferred staple in Nigeria. The increase in rice demand is attributed to a consumer shift from traditional staples, such as yam and garri, to imported parboiled rice. In addition, local prices have encouraged the shift towards rice due to poor harvests and corresponding higher prices of the local staples. Parboiled rice is imported to meet consumer demand in urban areas where the incomes are generally high.
Only a limited portion of the locally grown rice crop is available for key urban market centers such as Lagos, because small-scale rice farmers produce subsistence levels of rice with remaining surplus portions consumed at the village level. Locally milled rice is also of poor quality and quantity falls far short of urban demand. Many urban consumers are also weary of picking stones from the rice and washing local rice several times, while imported parboiled rice is clean and free from foreign matter.
Rice imports account for approximately one-third of Nigeria’s rice supplies. In January 2001, the Nigerian government raised the rice import duty from 50 percent to 75 percent in order to “protect local producers against massive imports”. Despite the increase in import duty, the USDA/FAS post recently raised the Nigerian rice imports estimate from 1.25 million tons for 2000/01 to 1.8 million for 2001/02. The bulk of rice imports comes from Southeast Asia, with about 80 percent coming from Thailand, and smaller amounts from India and Vietnam (FAS attaché 2001 rice report).
Although American rice has not made major sales inroads into the Nigerian market to date, it does have a market potential based upon its high quality. Many Nigerians remain familiar with US rice from the oil boon era of the 1970's and early 1980's when branded Uncle Ben’s rice was a household name. The return of Uncle Ben’s brand in the late 1990's generated interest among Nigerian consumers, particularly upper-income groups who enjoy the ability to pay for high-quality US rice (FAS attaché 2001 grains report).
USDA/FAS Attaché reports
FAO Rice and Nigeria Agriculture Information
Nigeria Food Security
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For more information, contact Curt Reynolds with the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division at (202) 690-0134.