Kebbi to export rice, as output hits 3.56m metric tonnes
The Kebbi State Government has disclosed readiness to export rice in commercial quantity to other countries, considering its current production status, as the largest producer of rice in the country. The state is choosing the commodity as its first product for export promotion, leveraging its comparative advantage, as it currently accounts for 3.56million mt. Speaking on the ‘State’s Export Development Initiative On Rice,’ at the Second National Committee On Export Promotion (Technical Committee Meeting), in Lagos, the state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Zailani Mohammed, who noted that the state has vast arable land and can boast of over three million practicing farmers, representing 70 per cent of the state’s population, added that there is plan to increase the production capacity in due course.
He noted that aside rice; the state also has potential to export wheat, Shea butter, soya beans, tomatoes, hides & skins and Gold & manganese. Mohammed said the state has facilitated provision of credit and inputs to farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme; promotion of value chains/additions in the sector; and signing of agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to explore potential of ethanol, using the state’s abundant sugarcane plantations. While lauding the Federal Government’s intervention on rice production, he said the current yield per hectare of rice in the country, has increased tremendously from 2.5million tons in 2005; 3.5 tons in 2010 to 5.5 tons in 2018, adding that the total number of rice farmers is on sustainable increase in the state from 50,000 in 2016 to 225,000 in 2018.
He said: “Currently, investment in rice production-both public and private in the state is: wet season-N87.44b and dry season-N48.61b. An estimated 923,770km square of landmass of which only 40 per cent is arable. 10 per cent of them is under-cultivated. Currently, Kebbi State can boast of over 1.5 million practicing farmers, representing 34 per cent of the total population of 4,343,604 projected from the 2006 census. “Nigeria is ranked as largest producer of rice in West Africa, at the same time ranked second largest importer of rice in the world as at 2014, incurring an average import bill of N1b daily on rice import. An estimated 72 per cent of total rice produced in the country, comes from the seven states of the North West of Nigeria. Kebbi State is currently the highest rice producer with a total output of 3.56million mt (Wet season-2.05 mt and Dry season-1.51mt).”
He suggested that government needs to initiate implementation policy to address strategic intervention in key areas such as: ensuring focus on agricultural growth and transformation, particularly sustainability of efforts on rice production; enabling law and an enduring state policy to prohibit rice import, among others.