As the yuletide season approaches, the price of rice in Nigeria has risen to a record high of N37,000 per 50kg bag on average.
This is as Nigerians have been grappling with sustained food crises over the years due to supply chain disruptions, insecurity, and low farm yields.
The recent flooding incidents in some parts of the country have exacerbated the situation, threatening to send food inflation soaring even more.
Recall that Nigeria is still recovering from the food supply constraints caused by the closure of its land borders in 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, insecurity challenges in 2021, and the ripple effect from the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022. And now, the country is dealing with unprecedented flooding incidents in the northern region.
Rice, a major staple in the country, is one of the many food items whose prices have been affected directly.
Last week, Olam Rice Farm, one of Africa’s largest rice farms, reportedly lost over $15 million worth of rice investments as its farm in Nasarawa State was submerged by the rising flood.
The government has attributed the recent flooding in the country to unusually heavy rainfall and climate change, which has now displaced over 1.3 million people and resulted in more than 600 cases of deaths.
The price of rice surged to the highest levels.
Price Of Domestic Rice Surges As Floods Threaten Nigeria’s Food Security
The price of a 50kg bag of domestic rice surged to a record high of N37,000 in October 2022 following the incidences of flooding affecting rice farms across the country.
The price of domestic rice rose from an average of N28,500 recorded in the previous month.
Similarly, the price of foreign-made rice that sold for an average of N32,500 last month has now touched its highest level at N40,000 in several Lagos markets.
This is according to data obtained by Nairalytics – the research arm of Nairametrics.
Indeed, the recent upshot in rice prices (21.2% year to date for foreign rice and 15.6% for locally produced rice) is due to the destruction of rice farmlands across the country.
However, while it seems as though the recent flood disaster is the main cause of Nigeria’s looming food crisis, Nairametrics will like to take into consideration some recent events and factors that have also contributed to the problem.
In a conversation with Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu, the Founder/CEO of agritech startup RiceAfrika Technologies, it was revealed that Nigeria’s food crisis can also be attributed to the following factors:
He noted that rice is the most consumed staple in the country due to its most convertible nature.
It can be mostly eaten steamed or boiled, and it can also be dried and found in flour. Similarly, it can be used to make beers and liquors.
Also, rice straws can be used to make paper and be woven into mats, hats, and other products. Ibrahim said that Nigeria plays a fundamental role in food consumption in Africa, noting that “only Lagos State consumes 47 trailers of rice per day, which means 600 bags of rice multiplied by 47 trailers.”
This shows the magnitude of rice consumed in the country, which Ibrahim estimates at over 8 million MT annually.
Nigeria’s inability to meet its domestic demand, despite increasing production over the years, has affected the price of rice. Ahmadu estimated that Nigeria records an annual rice deficit of up to 3.5 million MT which is compensated for by importation and smuggling.
The expert also highlighted some of the factors that have kept Nigeria’s production below desirable levels despite significant investments, including serious infrastructural deficits, lack of high-yielding seeds, and a lack of agronomic practices.
He noted that 92% of the farmers in the country make use of manual harvesting. According to him, “It takes about 30 people to work on a single hectare of land manually. Only to harvest 25 bags of rice, while using a machine will take just 30 minutes and harvest 37 bags of rice.”