Rice is a staple in most parts of Nigeria; hardly do you find a family who will not consume it at least once in a given week. Owing to the high demand for rice, its importation has become brisk business for some individuals since what is produced within the country is not enough to satisfy the huge demand.
With the rise in exchange rate from dollar to naira, cost of a bag of rice in Nigeria has tripled in the last one year. Consequently, importers can no longer mop up sufficient funds to continue with flooding the market with different brands of rice from Asia.
According to the Africa Rice Regional Representative/Coordinator and seed scientist, Dr Francis Nwilene, “the downside to this is that there is high demand, but insufficient supply and to solve this problem, Nigeria must use what we have to get what we want.
“We have arable lands good for rice production, we have youths who are unemployed, we have the technology for rice production. With adequate funding, Nigeria is capable of producing enough rice locally that will feed her population.
“However, the approach to bridging the gap and ensuring that Nigeria attains self-sufficiency in rice production within the next three years is to encourage seed companies to produce good quality rice seeds which will then be accessed by farmers.”
Thus, AfricaRice Regional Coodinator Dr Nwilene, Dr Abraham Shaibu and other members of the team including Dr Oyetunji Olumoye, Mr Oladejo Olajide conducted the intensive training sessions under USAID Seed Scaling project in Nigeria.
The team however organised a five-day training workshop under the
USAID Seed Scaling project for seed producing companies at their Ibadan Station from May, 9th-13th of 2016.
In attendance were representatives from 10 seed companies, a serving
Youth Corps member of the institute and fresh graduates who are Agripreneurs of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
A total of 43 rice technicians who actually work on the fields rather than the Chief Executive Officers of these companies were trained both in a class room setting and on the field including twelve IITA Agripreneurs trained.
According to Dr Shaibu, “he said that scientist at Africa Rice Centre has made a considerable impact in rice improvement. We now have rice varietries that are high yielding, early maturing and better adapted to different rice production ecologies.