RIFAN seeks collaboration with African countries on rice production
The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says it is seeking collaboration with Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) and other African countries to increase rice production and export within the continent.
CARI is to significantly improve the livelihoods of rice farmers in selected countries in the sub-region by increasing the competitiveness of domestic rice supply.
CARI is implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania with the aim of reaching 120,000 African rice producers.
The direct beneficiaries of this project are male and female smallholder rice farmers with a daily income below 2 US$.
Secondary beneficiaries are rural service providers and rice millers improving their sourcing capacity of quality supply.
Malam Sadiq Daware, National Treasurer, RIFAN, said in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, that the association had also finalised talk with Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania.
RIFAN official said that it had become imperative to forge a crucial partnership with the countries to drive the rice value chain.
He said the CARI officials had met with RIFAN to form Nigerian Rice Advocacy platform, where all the actors in the rice value chain would collaborate to increase rice production and export.
“The platform has been established in the 36 states and FCT and the entire representative have elected their leadership.
“The platform recognises the important role rice plays as a major staple food in the region, and the potential for widespread and positive socioeconomic impact through the development of a strong regional rice value chain,’’ he said.
Daware also said the primary objectives of CARI was to promote cooperation among regional and national rice bodies, ease cross border trade and strengthen existing national rice value chain platforms.
According to him, it is also to support the creation of such platforms, where they do not yet exist.
He said under the CARI agreement, stakeholders would also promote research and analysis and exchange best practices and creating adequate awareness of its activities among farmers.
Daware disclosed that by August, several rice stakeholders across Africa would converge in Abuja to further discuss rice research, development, production and policy.
He said the meeting would consolidate on production of enough rice to cover the needs of consumers.
Daware also said it deliberate on how to add value and allow rice export to other West African countries to enable it compete favourably with rice from Thailand and India.
He said consolidation in CARI remained a major focus because rice consumption in Africa had reached over 11.8 million tonnes yearly and not less than 3.3 million tonnes imported within the same period.
The RIFAN national treasurer, however, said 21 of the 39 rice producing countries in Africa imported between 50 and 99 per cent of their rice requirements.
Daware said that various challenges confronting rice importation include inadequate development and availability of improved post-harvest processing technologies and value addition and lack of access to credit by farmers, traders and processors.
These challenges, he said had led to low yields in rice production and limiting the rice sector development in the country.
He, however, assured that at the end of the meeting, the initiative would impact over 2 million rice farmers and solve all the perennial rice production, processing and marketing problems.
Daware commended the Buhari-led administration for its various initiatives leading to significant boost in rice production.
“Annual rice production in Nigeria has increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.
“The consumption rate now is 7.9 million tonnes and the production rate has increased to 5.8 tonnes per annum,’’ he said.
“Spending had drastically reduced, consumption and increased because of increased local production of the commodity.
He said that the increase was as a result of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) with a total of 12 million rice producers and 4 million hectares of FADAMA rice land.
Daware also commended the Nigeria Customs Service for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with RIFAN to fight rice smuggling of rice through, land border, into the country.