OPPORTUNITIES IN THE RICE VALUE CHAIN

I once went on a farm consult work in a village and I saw a man is always sitting at a point greeting me when going to the farm and coming back from the farm, recently I noticed that he is a rice farmer and he sit beside the road to make sure a particular bird does not prey on the growing rice, I have been privileged to see rice farm workers transplant rice from one part of the field to the other and I saw how over fifteen (15) workers was working on just three (3) plot of a rice farm. Rice is one of the most stressful crop to venture in as a farmer apart from the production of rice which is mostly done manually in Nigeria, the transplanting which is very strenuous and requires more labourers, the pest management and disease alleviation that cost so much, the harvesting of rice remains the most laborious work on any farm land. The rice husk removal, the boiling to perfection and all other processing activities that takes time, waste energy and consume more revenue of the farmer. 

For years now, Nigerians have fed on imported rice made from other continent, countries and states, the Buhari-led administration came on board and had to put a stop to importation of rice so as to help the farmers improve their profit and productivity, this decision helped the country appreciate their own farm produce. Rice production is majorly done in the northern part of Nigeria and it is one of the major source of wealth for Northern farmer. This decision has improved the demand of Nigeria rice by Nigerians and it has also contributed to the rice supply by the farmers. The farmers even the local ones have improved their efficiency and effectiveness towards the production of rice, the have enlarged their coast of production over the years.

PWC in a recent report on how to boost rice production through mechanization share this about rice production. Globally, rice production has grown at an annual average of 1.0% over the past decade, reaching 486.7 million tonnes in 2017. Most of this growth has come from Asia especially, accounting for 89% of global output. China and India are the largest producers, each with a share of 29.6% and 22.6% of global production respectively. In the rest of the world (ex-Asia), rice production has risen steadily over the past decades, accounting for 15% of total production by 2017, a marginal increase from 12% in the last two decades. Global rice consumption remains strong, driven by both population and economic growth in Asia and Africa. Over the past two decades, rice demand increased at an annual average of 1.2% to reach 481.6 4 million tonnes in 2017.

Rice is one of the most consumed staples in Nigeria and world at large, with a consumption per capita of 32kg. In the past decade in Nigeria, consumption increased with 4.7%, almost four times the global consumption growth, and reached 6.4 million tonnes in 2017. As at 2011, rice accounted for 10% of household food spending, and 6.6% of total household spending. Given the importance of rice as a staple food in Nigeria, boosting its efficient production has been accorded high priority by the government in the past 7 years. Significant progress has been recorded; rice production in Nigeria reached a peak of 3.7 million tonnes in 2017. Despite this improvement, comparatively, Nigeria’s rice statistics suggest there is an enormous potential to raise productivity and increase production. Yields have remained at 2 tonnes per hectare, which is about half of the average achieved in Asia. In addition, as population increases, along with rural to urban migration, ensuring food security in key staples becomes critical. However, food security cannot be achieved by a system that depends almost entirely on human muscle power and other manual methods.

Rice production still needs major improvement especially in the aspect of processing, many Nigerians still hoard in imported rice because of the fact that it has no dirt, stones and other materials that could disturb digestion. Nigeria rice packaging still have a long way to go as the packaging of rice in Nigeria still look like the ancient cement package and it needs to be effectively worked on.

Here are where you can strive in the rice business space

The Farmer

  • The Producer: Rice production in Nigeria still has a long way to go, farmers in the production aspect have not been able to meet the demands of the over expanding and overgrowing population, An average Nigerian eat rice once in three days, the tonnes of rice produced has not been able to meet up the demands of the population and this call for more producer of rice in the country.
  • The Harvester: Harvesting of rice can be extremely strenuous and tedious as it is more of a hand job done by multiple number of people, rice is a grain crop that can’t be harvested like plantain or potatoes or more. It would be of a great advantage if the youth can come up with ideas on hoe rice harvesting can be easier and more adaptable which in turn would improve food production and security thereby improving farmer’s profit and consumer satisfaction.
  • The processor: I know some readers are actually looking forward to this part, local rice farmer producer are really commendable but it is highly needed that rice processing are done to success and they are well managed in terms of de-husking and all other activities so as to produce a safe to eat rice. Dirt should be well removed and well drained so as to avoid eating the shaft of the rice with the rice which makes the eater forget the beauty of the rice.

The Problem solver

  • The machine fabricator: A write up was released some days ago and it was explained that the agricultural sector needs more fabricated machine that can be affordably purchased by local farmers, Cassava flakes processor now have a machine that make sure cassava flakes fryer does not have to waste their energy stirring, all they do is pour the  cassava and the machine fries the cassava, likewise the rice production chain, it is needed that machine for all aspect of rice production and processing is provided and marketed by extension agent to Nigeria farmers so as to promote healthy food production.
  • The package guru: Can Nigeria farmers work more on rice packaging? How do consumer buy rice and the package is faulty and even waste the rice before consumer get to the place of abode, it is now the time to have a well packaged rice in a well packaged nylon and at the same time attractive
  • The market harnesser: Mostly, rice farmers don’t have to look for market as the demand of rice in Nigeria exceed the supply so it is only needed for a marketer to get the right paying customer for a rice farm so as to make sure the profitability of the produced rice reach it profit limit and goals.

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