Despite the Federal Government’s support for local rice production, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has forecasted that worldwide output of milled rice for the current crop year is expected to be lowered by 3.8 million metric tonnes to 513.5 million tonnes due to unfavourable weather in major rice-growing countries, including Nigeria.
With this, there was every indication that rice producers under the umbrella of the Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RiFAN) were expected to reduce the country’s local rice production of 10 million tonnes, while the annual consumption capacity in the country of 7.5 and 8.5 million tonnes were also going to be affected amid excessive rainfall.
Consequently, the economic implication of the United Nations’ food agency’s forecast on Nigeria as a rice nation, was that prices of local rice were further expected to rise following bad weather, coupled with the uncertainty in the country’s rice sector’s environment relating to the on-going border closure.
FAO, in its latest monthly report, stated that the forecast output went down from 517.3 million tonnes as much contractions in major rice producing countries, including the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, China, India and the United States, were blaming on weather setbacks, mainly excessive rainfall.
The latest forecast was also lower than the estimated 517.8 million tonnes of rice produced the previous year, which was a new all-time high.
“In the Philippines and China, recent reports indicate a lower area planted in 2019, resulting in a small downgrade of the production forecasts for these countries,” the UN agency said.
In a separate report, UN-administered Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) said rice-growing conditions in the Philippines were a mix of favourable and unfavourable factors “due to heavy rain from several tropical cyclones as the harvest begins for wet-season rice.”
Yet another report, FAO Food Price Index covering September data, the sub-index of cereals was steady compared to the previous month’s situation, but rice prices decreased.
“International rice prices fell modestly amid slow import demand and uncertainties surrounding policies in the Philippines and Nigeria,” the FAO said.
For instance, the price of rice at the international market was $419 per tonne, which was 3,000 bags of rice. The rice processors had stated that RiFAN pegged the price of rice at N15,000 per bag of 50 kilogrammes (kg) following the border closure.
RiFAN Acting Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Maifata, told reporters in Abuja that the association would ‘sanction any rice processor (miller) that sells above the stipulated price.’
The RiFAN chief said the ex-factory price of parboiled rice, consumed locally, had been pegged at between N13,300 and N14,000 while the final retail price had been placed at N15,000.