As Nigerians prepare for Christmas, demand for Nigerian-grown local rice over foreign rice has risen in Calabar state given its affordability.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Calabar residents say it is cheaper, more affordable, even sweeter and better preferred than foreign rice.
Rice farmers say one bushel of rice (the equivalent of half bag) reportedly sells for N7,250, while two bushels (equivalent of one bag) sells for N14,500, even though there are fears it may increase before the close of the season, depending on changes in the cost of production.
The farmers add that they are under serious pressure to deliver on demand in order to meet up before the close of the season as many people have placed orders for the local rice.
Ebonyi, which is the first state in Nigeria to ban foreign rice, has succeeded in keeping the imported rice out of its markets and replaced it with the local Ebonyi Rice, which is accessible and affordable. The Ebonyi paddy rice reportedly sells for N8,000 while the processed rice sells from N14,000.
The boom in rice production in some states of the federation is a pointer that Nigeria could be self-sufficient in rice production and also be a net exporter of the commodity if only the authorities could put the right framework and mobilise the people.
With Christmas around the corner, the boost in rice production in Ebonyi, Lagos/Kebbi and Anambra states is good news. Lagos and Kebbi states are working on a joint agricultural project to produce rice, wheat, groundnuts and sorghum.
The effort of these states has made the otherwise unaffordable rice affordable. The economic recession has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Without the recession, these states would not have taken proactive measures that are now boosting food production.