Dr Sarah Alade, Acting Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, revealed on Friday May 30 that Nigeria spends an average of $4,000,000,000 (four billion dollars) annually on the importation of rice.
She stated this at the ongoing Africa Rising Conference on in Maputo, the Mozambique capital. Dr.Sarah Alade was a panelist in a session with the theme: ”Structural Transformation and Private Sector Development in Sub-Saharan Africa”
She emphatically stated that “Agriculture is key to economic development in Africa; on the average, Nigeria spends about four billion dollars on the importation of rice. We need to improve domestic market to harness the natural resources we have”.
She also expressed the opinion that if Africa was able to transform the agricultural sector, it would be able to feed itself and have surplus for others.
Furthermore, she told the house that the Nigerian government was doing everything possible to minimize risks in the sector to enable participation of local investors, adding that the ongoing agricultural transformation program had equally attracted many foreign investors.
For Nigeria to stop importation of rice, there should be massive investment in the development of the Rice value chain from Seeds, to fertilizer, harvesting, par boiling, ”destoning”, milling, bagging etc. There should be development and opening up many Rice farms in order to have enough Rice paddy for the mills. This may appear a Herculean task now, but it is a strongly desirable investment if Nigeria is to conserve foreign exchange.