1.1 BACKGROUND STUDY
With a population estimate of 174,507,539 persons and population growth rate of 2.54%, Nigeria happens to be not only the leading producer of rice in West Africa, but also among the leading importers of the commodity. Although endowed with a strong agricultural and natural resources base, as well as favorable climatic conditions for agricultural production, an amount of about ₦1 billion is spent daily by Nigeria on importation of rice (Abubakar S, 2013). Hindered by inconsistent policies on rice, improper methods of production used by farmers, high costs and scarcity of vital inputs of production, etc, local rice production for Nigeria has failed to catch up with the increasing pace of consumption. By estimates observed from the agricultural production database of FAO for Nigeria, the gap between domestic demand of rice for food (as against feed and other uses) has widened since the late 1990s. Treated with benign neglect prior to independence due to self-sufficiency, rice has become a strategic and political commodity in Nigeria, attracting much attention due to its increasing role in the diet of the populace and its daily drainage of foreign exchange through imports. Rice used to be classified as a luxury food item prior to independence; it however now holds the status of a staple food, replacing cassava and yam among others (Daramola B, 2005).
The consumption of rice in spite of increasing prices induced through high tariff imposition has been increasing since the year 1976. Per capita consumption of rice in the country increased from as low as 3.4kg/year in 1976 to 20.9kg/yr in 2009 (FAOSTAT, 2013), an increase of over 500%. Production has however failed to catch up with the increasing demand for rice, leading to widening of the gap between domestic production and demand, increasing the role of imported rice in diets of the Nigerian populace, and making the country a net importer of the commodity in the process. Various trade policies purposed on improving local rice production and marketing systems of the country have been adopted and applied by previous regimes to help reverse the net importer status of the country. Among such measures are imposition of tariffs, quantitative restrictions on imports through the use of quota, and outright ban on imported rice (Daramola B, 2005). In spite of past and present efforts, the demand-supply gap persists. Like other West African countries, bridging of the rice demand-supply gap in Nigeria, besides the aforementioned trade policy measures, have been sought through expansion of area for production as against intensification (purposed on improving productivity). With area harvested of rice having generally depicted an increasing trend between the years 1976 and2009, output of rough rice has more or less stagnated between the years 1989 and 2007.
In a study by Norman and Kebe (2006) on “Africansmallholder farmers: rice production and sustainablelivelihoods”, it was revealed that rice production in most African countries lags well behind demand due to low productivity of farmers’ fields. Most developing countries go after area expansion in pursuit of bridging their respective demand-supply gap for rice, placing quite minimal emphasis on productivity. Some important questions that need answering are “How long can we keep on expanding area under rice cultivation? How far can we get with this?” In his speech at the launch of a seminar organized by CGIAR Fund Office, Dr Robert Zeigler (Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) placed an advise that “Because of rapid population growth and diminished harvest due to climate change and other weather related stress, such as severe drought and floods, global demand for rice will outstrip supplies unless concerted action is taken now to boost yield growth and improve the management of water, land and other resources on which production depends” (Zeigler, R.S. 2012). In spite of efforts in line with area expansion put forth so far by many developing countries, the demand-supply gap persists in majority of such countries, notably countries in West Africa.
The problem therefore as identified by Norman and Kebe (Norman J.C, 2006) and affirmed by Zeigler is with yield as a component of output as against harvested area (Zeigler R.S, 2012). With anticipated increases in population growth and corresponding increases in infrastructure development, there will come a time when expansion will no more be an option. Must we wait until that time is due? What then will we be protecting for posterity? This line of reasoning has over a decade now given most researchers a purpose to sacrifice much time, money and energy into finding alternative measures to help increase yields of major cereals and non-cereals on which farmers and most rural and sub-urban inhabitants depend for sustenance.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The demand for rice has been increasing since the mid 1970s and it has become a basic food commodity for all socio-economic classes in Nigeria. A combination of factors seems to have triggered the increase in rice consumption. The rising demand was partly a result of population growth, and also increased income levels (Akanji, 1995). Though rice contributes about 12-14% of the food requirement of the entire population in the country, its production capacity is far below the national requirement (Agbamu and Fabusoro, 2001) Domestic production in the country is 3.2 million tonnes against annual demand of some 5.0 millionstonnes, creating a deficit of 1.8 million tonnes. The federal Government has set up target of annual production 5.0 million tonnes for the nation to be achieved by the year 2005 (Bello, 2003).It is estimated that 4.6 million hectares of land could be put into rice cultivation in the country, but only an estimated 1.9 million ha arc currently utilized. The major reasons for insufficient domestic production of rice are inadequate and untimely availability of necessary inputs, cost of reducing rice production constraints and cost of adopting proven technologies. In order to achieve sustainable rice production in Nigeria, efforts at providing effective means to boost production and adequately increase the quality office produce have to be evolved and sustained
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the trend in rice yield, output and price in Nigeria
- What are the future values in the yield, output and price of rice in Nigeria
- To examine the trend in rice yield, output and price in Nigeria
- Forecast the yield, output and price of rice between 2018-2050
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Although, rice production has been increasing over years, it is still not enough for consumers because of the consistent increase in population.This study is aimed at improving rice yield and output in the near future as well as regulating the general population of the country.