The African Development Bank (AfDB) is not a sadist when it comes to pinpoint agendas that can transform the core of the economies of various countries in the continent, if its recommendations on how to boost Nigeria’s rice production together with overtones of how Rwanda has turned an agronomic miracle, are anything to go by.
The bank has said that by developing the vast swathes idle arable land of the country (now at 40%), the country can stem unnecessary dependence on import markets with its own paddy fields that can help triple the current production margin, and meet the quantity the country needs to call it quits with importation.
Where Rwanda has been, Nigeria can be
The AfDB has cited Rwanda’s exponential rise, by 15%, in its production capacity, five years ago, courtesy of sound spending in the sector by allocating agriculture 30% more of budgetary allocation in just a period of three years.
It is culture shock to note that the country even recently made maize exports to the cradle of corn including Kenya, reason enough, the AfDB believes, for a bigger country like Nigeria to make a breakthrough with ease.
Rwanda is not the only example that has stemmed the tide of under-utilization, for Malawi, in the last two financial years, has managed to invest heavily in agricultural schemes, with fruition apparent in the extra 0.8m tones that its farmers have produced from the maize crop.
In contrast, the government in the West African country has perpetually downplayed agriculture by awarding it some 81.41 billion Naira of a total 4 Trillion Naira budget.
The African Union (AU) set a base spending rate of 10% for nations in the continent as the kitty they pledge to agronomic activities. With the above budgetary statistics for Nigeria, it does not look like the country expects any windfall like that of Rwanda soon.
To compound the matter, only slightly more than 33 million of the 84m hectares in Nigeria that can turn into rice paddies are under development.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), in mid-December 2012, had shown that two West African countries, namely Ghana and Nigeria, would compound the worldly capacity for rice in the last financial period that will end early 2013, courtesy of their renewed production impetus. The world total would improve by 5m tones ending 2013.
This margin would mean that there would be a growth margin of 7%, in worldly stocks, bringing a year-by-year increment to an eight-year high. Alternatively, rice in storage against that under consumption would also hike in the 2012-13 period to 35.5% from the previous 33.6%.
Nigeria is doing all it can to orientate its farming communities to realize this goal by incorporating more young people who constitute most of its high population, into the sector. There are already plans that will bring upstart farmers of a tender age to professional farming by extending micro-finance to help them propagate agriculture, and especially rice.
Nigeria sets to consummate its part of the bargain by achieving rice-sufficiency within its borders by 2015.