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The aggressive manner in which Alhaji Aliko Dangote is investing in local rice production and the effort of government in enhancing the domestic production of rice, Nigeria may soon return to the international market as a net-exporter of rice.
Years ago, Nigeria was among the top rice producers until an aversion for home-grown rice sets in. This has turned Nigeria to the second largest importer of rice in the world, buying at least five million metric tons per year from exporting countries like China and Thailand. Yet Nigeria’s fertile land and rich agro-climatic conditions could easily produce rice to feed the entire country and generate surplus for the region
Rice remains an integral part of the average Nigerian’s diet. As such, there is no surprise that the country import is heavy on this food crop. The FGN’s estimates show demand at 6.3 million metric tons per year (mmt/y) while domestic supply is estimated at 2.3 mmt.
According to the FGN’s Agriculture Promotion Policy, rice import still exceed $1 billion per annum. It was gathered that the CBN’s policy, which focused on limiting the importation of 41 items (rice inclusive) led to a 300,000 metric ton decline in rice import in first quarter, 2016.
The inclusion of rice on the list of 41 items excluded from accessing foreign exchange (FOREX) from the official window as well as the general issues with sourcing of FOREX has led to a drop in rice supply to the domestic market and a spike in prices.
Considering that the FGN’s set minimum wage currently stands at N18,000 per month, a bag of rice currently priced at between N18,000 to N19,000 per bag is almost not affordable to the average household.
Despite the ban on rice imports through land borders, there has been increased smuggling. The Nigeria Customs Service has recorded a pick-up in seizures since January 2016.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has expressed its commitment to improving rice productivity. Local rice production has been projected to hit 2.7 mmt in 2017.

On the public- private partnership sphere, Dangote inaugurated its 8,000-hectare rice out-growers’ scheme in Hadejia, Jigawa state early this year, when he distributed rice seedlings to farmers. The scheme is said to help reduce the level of Nigeria’s imports and potentially provide direct and indirect jobs to about 10, 000 Nigerians.
Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to invest $1 billion on establishment of fully integrated rice production and processing operations across Nigeria.
Farmlands in Edo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, and Niger states totalling 150,000 hectares have been penciled down for the commercial production of rice paddy.
Rice is one of the viable investments in agriculture, as a high yield crop, the return on investment for rice farming is high and it takes just four months to plant and harvest rice.
Starting with 20,000 hectares of rice cultivation under scheme known as outgrowers, to be expanded to cover 800, 000 hectares over the next three years, the president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said time is now to turn to agriculture to save the nation’s economy.
The business mogul commenced the scheme with the distribution of treated rice seedling for planting to some 5,000 farmers expected to participate in the scheme.
He explained, “We are committed to the development of outgrower scheme by providing local, value added products and services that meet the basic needs of the populace. To this end, the Dangote Rice Farm, will run an initial pilot in Hago-Fadama, Kafin Hausa and Auyo areas which would see Dangote Rice developing small hold farmers by providing quality inputs, certified seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals and petrol improved agricultural practices and technology to increase yield and produce quality rice paddy which would also be bought back from them by Dangote

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