• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
businessday logo


Nigeria, ERO, host 1st General Assembly to achieve regional self-sufficiency in rice production

Prices of top nine rice brands in Nigeria and prices

Following the high demand for Africa’s biggest staple, rice, Nigeria today played host to the Economic Community of West Africa Countries (ECOWAS) Rice Observatory (ERO) to achieve regional self-sufficiency in rice production across the region.

The three days meeting began in Abuja, Yesterday, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, with the theme: Aligning Goals and Charting a Road Map to Accelerate a Competitive Rice Sector in West Africa”

In his remarks, Alain Sy Traore, director for Agriculture and Rural Development at the ECOWAS Commission stated that the member states suffered insecurity which they have developed several strategies to address.

In his words “To tackle this we have developed several strategies including Sustainable Rice Development strategy and after 10 years implementation and assessment we noticed that we are still lagging. This brought us to the establishment of the ECOWAS Rice Observatory where we have partners, funders agencies, and institutions to join hands together towards this implementation of the strategy

“Today is the first general assembly of the meeting where we will be discussing the current situation and developing challenges as well as validate a roadmap to revamp our energy and push the agenda in support of the member states.  We will also be tackling the regional challenges that cannot be resolved by one country, aiding regional trading, marketing and extending common vision towards implementation of the agenda”.

He further informed that the 15 member states were converged to present their national activities and develop common activities together

Also speaking, Peter Dama, chairman, of ERO African Rice Forum, Nigerian chapter, stated at the meeting that they hoped to achieve self-sufficiency and sustainable production to feed citizens of Nigeria and the West African region

In his words “The expected outcome is that we are looking towards self-sufficiency, sustainable production of rice, that we will be able to feed our citizens all over the country, particularly in Nigeria, because rice has become the staple found in all ceremonies attended.

Noting that the Nigerian government considered rice as a vehicle to address micronutrient deficiency through fortification, he said “Nigeria Rice Farmers were already working on the belief that such a forum such as the ERO will allow them to meet with lots of donor agencies to facilitate the efforts of Nigerian farmers”

Dama stressed the lack of support from the Nigerian government, which further promoted the high cost of the staple, noting that farmers were faced with insecurity, lack of support, and high costs of fuel among others.

“Why prices are high is because the cost of production is very high.  Just recently we had the electricity tariff increment. We also have the issue of insecurity, our farmers are being attacked and unable to produce as expected, so it is not the fault of millers or farmers. Our farmers are trying, you must be aware of the Rice pyramids because of the anchor borrower’s system, which is government-subsidized and provided. But as of now that we are talking, the issue of insecurity, anchor borrowers support for the farmers, we need them”

Dama was however optimistic, that an event such as the ERO Assembly, would come with some technological ideas and solutions that their members would follow.  “Some of my members are already into smart and sustainable agriculture so that we can meet up these challenges”

Kingsley Uzoma, senior special assistant to the President, SSAP to the President on Agri-Business and productivity enhancement revealed that “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, upon assuming office in June declared a state of emergency in the food sector, rice is just one component.  The President has a very ambitious plan of clearing 500 hectares of farmland for cultivation, for farmers depending on the location, crop of interest or the suitability of the crop within that area, rice-producing states are captured.