Nigeria’s huge deficit in local rice supply, with an estimated gap of two million metric tonnes (mt), offers a huge potential market for neighbouring Ghana’s surplus par-boiled rice.
A study by USAID’s Expanded Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (E-ATP) has observed that the general consumption level of par-boiled rice in Ghana is rather low and once production is expanded, surpluses could easily be generated for export to Nigeria.
Whereas about 90 percent of rice produced in Nigeria is processed as par-boiled rice, only rice produced in Northern Ghana – which constitutes about 60 percent of the country’s total production – is processed into par-boiled rice.
Additionally, the main variety imported into Nigeria for par-boiled rice processing is Jasmine rice, which is also commonly produced in Ghana by most rice producers. The study noted that a Nigerian company, IRS Rice Mills at Kano, which currently imports several tonnes of par-boiled paddy-rice from Thailand for processing, has expressed the willingness to import good quality paddy-rice from Ghana.
In 2010, the price of 100kg of paddy-rice in Nigeria after the harvest season ranged from 400 naira to 4,200 naira if sold in the most popular markets outside the villages.
Currently, Ghana’s annual rice output is estimated at 150,000mt, with rice produced under upland ecologies – including valley bottoms – constituting the largest proportion of the country’s local rice sector, which is supplemented by production from the few irrigation systems available in the country.
A recent intervention in Ghana that supplied fertiliser and other chemical inputs at subsidised rates to paddy-rice farmers resulted in output increasing between 30 to 70 percent
Presenting findings of the E-ATP study, Samuel Asuming-Brempong of the University of Ghana outlined measures to enhance par-boiled rice production in Ghana, including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the private sector working together to promote just a couple of varieties out of the many varieties currently being produced.
Contract farming in rice for export, also should be promoted in northern Ghana and other parts of the country to ensure the production of pure strands of rice varieties suitable for export.
Asuming-Brempong recommended that active market associations that operate within the market for par-boiled rice should be promoted, while road infrastructure to facilitate the production and trade in the local rice should receive the urgent attention of both governments.
The study, which sought to determine opportunities and gaps in competitiveness for par-boiled rice supplies from Ghana to satisfy market requirements in Nigeria, noted that an FAO study in 2007 projected African cereal prices to increase by 49 percent.
The price of rice reached a 10-year high on the world market in 2008, during the global cereal and grain supply crunch. In recent months, reports have had global demand for cereals and grains once again seriously outstripping supply.
Rice demand, especially, exceeds production in most countries around the world and large quantities of rice continue to be imported to meet domestic demand at a huge cost in foreign currency – especially in sub-Saharan Africa.