Monday, May 05, 2008

Rice is nice

As news comes through of food riots in Somalia and the prices of consumable commodities rise, food security issues are given increasing prominence in the Nigerian press. A dominant story of the past few days is that the Federal Government has set aside N80bn for "medium term agricultural development". There are some reports that a chunk of the money is to be spent on importing rice from Thailand, to ensure prices do not rise. Meanwhile, State-level governments are imploring market traders not to rise prices unnecessarily.

Due to the almost complete inability of the Nigerian press to report simple facts, it is not easy to work out how much of the FGN money is allotted to extraordinary rice importation, and how much to more sustainable measures. The question of whether a huge one-off importation of rice would actually have medium term negative impact (reducing demand on home-grown varieties and threatening local production) does not seem to be considered. Elsewhere in the papers today, I read that an Ofada rice plant is shortly to be commissioned in Ogun State, creating 500 jobs. This is good news.

The issue is that with rice as an example, far too much production is small-scale only-just-beyond subsistence with antiquated milling/par-boiling methods. Much more could be done to improve production methods by encouraging larger-scale facilities. In the rice business, as in other sectors, there are vested interests in the importation trade that need to be challenged by the govt.

Meanwhile, it seems like Malawi is setting the pace in the agricultural sector on the continent.


anonymaus,  6:31 pm  

One sometimes (I stress sometimes), despairs of African leaders.

1) They can't provide sufficient employment for their people.
2) They are aid dependent, ie can't stand on their own two feet. Shamelessly accepting aid for one flimsy reason or another.
3) Unable to provide reasonable education or health care.
4) Now they can't feed their populace.
Begs the question, what are they good for?

This importation of rice, why not concentrate efforts at taking agriculture and it's associated industries, transportation and storage seriously, speak to the local farmers, listen to them and co-operate with them. Maybe Yar'adua will take agriculture seriously...

Anonymous,  11:47 pm  

Remember what happened when Marie Anoinette allegedly said "Let them eat cake"?
when will there be a revolution?

omidanbellafricaine 5:06 pm  

And in related news Costco's rationing rice in America to prevent hoarding

femi 7:49 pm  

oh yes. the great white sage has spoken.

Good thing the malawians didnt listen to the whiteman.

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by 2008

Back to TOP