The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has made agriculture a focus area in recent years, and in the apex bank’s plan for the next five years (2019 to 2024), ten commodities have been identified for special intervention.
Rice, Maize, Cassava, Cocoa, Tomato, Cotton, Oil-palm, Poultry, Fish, and Livestock/Dairy, according to Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, are to record a boost in agricultural productivity through the provision of improved seedlings, as well as access to finance for rural farmers.
The ten focus commodities are highlighted below, with some prospects.
“Before the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, we would cultivate rice, but will not have buyers,” said Mohammed Suleiman Ambursa, a judge of the Kebbi State High Court, who was on his farm during a visit to Birnin Kebbi. “The price was so low before,” he said.
Now that there are more rice mills springing up, there is an increase in demand for paddy. This presents an opportunity for those who want to take advantage of producing rice, which is perhaps Nigeria’s most consumed staple food.
For the price of local rice to come down significantly, Rotimi Fashola, general manager, Elephant Group Plc, told BusinessDay the cost of paddy (which is the raw material) will have to sell well below N100,000 per metric tonne. Currently, it sells for N115,000 on the average, before other logistics costs are factored in, which could then take it to about N130,000.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria’s rice production reached 7 million tonnes (4.2 million tonnes, milled basis) in 2017, up 12 per cent from 6.3 million tonnes (3.8 million tonnes, milled basis) in 2015. Official, accurate data to ascertain consumption and the gap with production is not readily available. However, when the smuggling market is considered, the opportunities become more obvious. The Ogun State Area Command, Nigeria Customs Service recently said it had intercepted 29,905 bags of rice in the first six months of this year (2019).
Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, responsible for an estimated 20 per cent of global output, which in 2017 was 285 million metric tonnes in the global cassava processing market report.
The irony is, whereas there is abundance of cassava in Nigeria, the value extraction is extremely low. Even though Nigeria ranks as the world’s largest producer of cassava, the yield is low (at five to ten tonnes per hectare against global average of 25 tonnes per hectare). More importantly, for industrial usage, the starch content derived from the best of cassava tubers is between 18 and 22 per cent. Whereas, in countries like India and Malaysia, starch content of between 38 and 40 per cent is derived, and there are possibilities of doing even better.
Cassava has some major Industrial Products among which are Ethanol, Industrial Starch, Cassava Flour, Glucose Syrup, Sweetner etc. Industrial Starch, a major product from Cassava, is used in the Gum/adhesives, Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, Book binding, Paper and packaging, Confectionery, Chemical and household products manufacturing, Batteries, Drinks, beverages, Baby foods, and Wood finishers etc. Despite these potentials, Nigeria imports over 95 per cent of the Industrial starch used in the country.
According to the Agriculture Promotion Policy (2016-2020) Nigeria’s Cotton demand is 700,000 metric tonnes, with a production of 200,000 metric tonnes (as at 2015). It noted that demand is for seed cotton and could rise to 1.0 – 1.5 million tons subject to textile sector revival.
The Central Bank of Nigeria recently intervened in the cotton value chain and textile industry, with the distribution of seeds in Katsina state to over 100,000 farmers cultivating an estimated 200,000 hectares of farmland. The CBN’s intervention is projected to increase cotton production from 80,000 tonnes produced in 2018 to 300,000 tonnes by 2020. There is still a substantial deficit of potentially 500,000 metric tonnes to be met.
The demand for Cocoa in Nigeria according to the APP is 3.6 million metric tonnes, while producing a meagre 250,000 metric tonnes. The APP also noted demand is global, and will rise to 4.5MMT by 2020.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that in the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria exported N31.35 billion worth of Cocoa (in different variants). The country can export not just more raw Cocoa, but as well cover the deficit in local needs, particularly in the production of confectionaries.
As noted in the APP, Nigeria’s annual chicken consumption is 200 million birds, while supply is 140 million birds. There is a deficit of 60 million birds (at least as at 2015), which is often filled through smuggling of poultry products. Many times, the smuggles products even make it difficult for the local market to thrive.
With the CBN’s support, local producers could get to lower their operating costs, produce more, and find the business more favourable.
Maize/Corn demand in Nigeria according to the APP is 7.5 million metric tonnes, while production is 7 million MT. Limited importation is required but can shift due to feed demand, which primarily drives demand in Nigeria.
However, there is a need to ramp up production, as availability of maize can spur an increase in production for some manufacturers that require it as raw material. Even the poultry sector depends on increase in maize production, as higher volumes and lower prices will enable the sector to thrive.
Tomato demand in Nigeria is put at 2.2 million metric tons per annum, while annual actual production is 1.5 million metric tonnes but 700,000 metric tonnes is lost to post harvest wastage, leaving only 800,000 metric tonnes supplied to the market, according to data from the agric ministry.
The 40 percent loss, valued at N72 billion annually, between farm and market, on face value, portrays what could be a viable business, particularly in processing for tomato paste.
According to a 2017 report by the NBS, Nigeria’s fish production data has reflected that 5,788,474 tonnes of fish had been produced between 2010 and 2015. Year 2014 recorded the highest tonnes of fish produced with 1,123,011 tonnes.
Artisanal fish production has consistently accounted for the bulk, more than 60 percent annually, followed by Aquaculture (Fish farms), and the least from Industrial commercial trawlers. However, Nigeria has a deficit of over 2 million metric tonnes.
With the focus from CBN, Fish farms could take advantage of this opportunity to expand, and go beyond just production of Catfish, which they have been predominantly known for.
In Milk/Dairy, Nigeria has a demand of 2 million metric tonnes, but only produces 600,000 MT, a gap noted in the APP to be driven by insufficient milking cows and low yields.
Oil Palm in Nigeria has a demand of 8 million MT but production is 4.5 million MT, which refers to fresh fruit bunch (FFB) from which oil is extracted at a 10 per cent – 15 per cent efficiency rate.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was reported to have noted palm oil importation is $500 million annually. With the recent restriction announced by the CBN, local palm oil producers are likely to get an even favourable market for their produce.
Agriculture in Nigeria, particularly primary production is challenging and widely considered ‘high risk’. However, considering the huge deficits and growing demand, the opportunities also abound.