Just of recent, some tourists at a resort in Badagry, Lagos, Nigeria confessed that the reason Nigeria is their preferred country for tourism, among other attractions, is because of the acclaimed Naija Jollof Rice.
Make some sweet noise for Naija. We are getting there.
At a time when the Nigerian Jollof Rice is gaining increased global attention, a commensurate supply of rice is needed for us to stay on top of the game lest the Ghanaian Jollof version outruns us in the race for supremacy due to inadequate local rice supply and production. while this may sound hilarious, it is a serious matter.
There is the need for all hands to be on the deck; there is need for more food production to boost initiatives like the collaboration between the Lagos State Government and her counterpart in Kebbi state; the offspring of the union which is LAKE rice. (Those still consuming imported rice are missing jare!)
Competition is rife! For us to stay on top of the global Jollof Rice table, there is the need for other state governments to rise up to the challenge of rice production as against importation just as the Bauchi state government has done recently.
Let me put things in proper perspectives:
Do you know that Nigerians have just two types of food? Rice and others.
You see, Oryza Sativa (that is what scientists call rice) is a staple diet in Nigeria; the average Nigerian eats rice at least three to four times in a week, in fact, it is difficult to determine what Nigerians consume most between rice and water. Very difficult to ascertain, indeed.
According to the BBC, we consumed 2.3 million tonnes of rice just last year, more than 60% of which were imported with cost of shipment totalling to the tune of $5m (£4m) per day. These and many more are reasons why business minded people must rise up too.
Aside from these, the custom duties on rice importation is unprintable. Just last month, the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) declared that Nigeria has saved over $600 million (about N216billion) from stoppage of rice importation through its domestic mass production.
Good news, if you ask me.
The case for increase in local rice production is expedient to the health and wellness of all.
Importation of rice needs to be stopped lest we are continually fed plastic rice; which is rampant now because the demand for rice is high.
To curb feeding of poisonous fibrous contents, Nigeria needs more homegrown rice production. Some states are doing their bit when it comes to local rice production. States like Kaduna with 732.42 metric tons annual rice production; Ogun with 636.67 annual metric tons; Kano with 422.05 annual metric tons; Taraba with 401.99 yearly metric tons and Benue with 341.48 metric tons as output per year.
Dangote Rice Mill is also contributing significantly but Nigerians are like Oliver Twist when it comes to rice consumption; we always want more.
In a country with an annual rice consumption index of above 1 trillion metric tons per year, more state governments and indigenous private investors are needed in the quest for made-in-Nigeria rice. Only this way would we continue to shine on the global stage of Jollof Rice.
Ghana Jollof must not grab that prestigious crown. Mba!
A Nigeria without imported rice is possible!