RICE is now one of Nigeria’s staple foods apart from Gari and Yams. Rice is easy to cook and many children love it. Many households can include Rice in their menu three times a day.
Incidentally, because local rice production could not meet the local demand, Rice importation became the order of the day. Apart from legal importation, the quantity of Rice smuggled through our land borders was enormous. Valuable and scarce foreign exchange was used to import rice from Thailand and a few other countries. It became so much that the local production was depressed. Imported rice became cheaper than locally produced varieties.
In order to save and protect the local farmer, the Federal Government banned the importation of rice. Many state governments embarked on Rice production on very large scale. Notable, Lagos and Kebbi States collaborated for the production Lake Rice brand. Many states in the South East and Sout-south
Consequent upon this, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said that the Federal government’s ban on the importation of rice into the country was having severe effects on rice production in Thailand. Incidentally, Thailand used to be the largest exporter of Rice to Nigeria until the Federal government imposed a moratorium on the importation of Rice. As at 2014, Nigeria was importing 580,000 tonnes of rice from both Thailand and India. The volume had reduced drastically as a result of the change in policy. There are still a few pockets of rice smuggling, but not on a large scale as it used to be.