The Federal Government of Nigeria and the Rice Politics

by Alex Agbo

That there’s shortage of logic in Nigeria is not in doubt. Most Nigerians have settled with anomaly. They have normalized it and even glorified suffering, torture and hardship as ‘being strong’.
Well that is not my business. It’s their choice. What you see depends on where you stand.

My business is with the strange economics surrounding the consumption of rice in Nigeria.
The local, small scale farmers would not be empowered by the government to increase their productivity. The government would not deliberately start large scale rice farming. No import substitution strategy.
One day we just woke up and said we have closed our borders. No more rice importation.
The policy seems good on the surface, and since most Nigerians don’t think, they started hailing it. Some ‘analysts’ even said it would force everyone to the farm.
Two things I want to point out.
1. Every country imports food. They produce their own and exchange for the ones they cannot produce. That’s cost advantage.
China, USA, the UK and many other vibrant countries still import food.
What do we have that people will miss if we stopped trading with them? Oil. There are other countries with oil too. We have mineral resources scattered all over the country. No one is reasonable enough to talk of diversifying.
The last time we tried to tell the world that we are sufficient by exporting yams. They weren’t well preserved, they got rotten on the high sea. At the same time a tuber of yam was sold locally for N1,000 and above.
So how come there’s no one in government to tell them that it is economic suicide to export what you don’t have?
2. Closing borders and banning foreign rice would not lead to local increase in rice production. Yes, you read it here. That alone, without any deliberate government effort, is akin to the economic policy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Things you need to increase rice production would be:
a. Improved seedlings.
b. Fertilizers
c. Rice mills of industrial capacity.
d. Storage facilities.
e. Good transportation network.
f. Loans and grants to local farmers.
e. Mechanized farming. I mean real industrial farming.What If There Was No Money?

Without these in place, every of such ban is just one huge joke.
Always do first things first. You won’t die. We should stop behaving like archaic and primitive people, sticking to anachronistic methods.
God bless Nigeria

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