Nigeria wheat, rice imports rising

by Arvin Donley
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LAOS, NIGERIA — A refugee crisis in Nigeria is straining grain supplies as the country increasingly looks to imported wheat and rice to meet its consumption needs, according to an April 17 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The country’s rice production, estimated at 3.7 million tonnes in 2018-19, is not keeping pace with demand, the report said. It said rice consumption is projected to increase by 4% to 6.7 million tonnes from the 6.4 million tonnes recorded in 2017-18.

“Nigeria’s increasing rice consumption is mostly driven by population growth, increasing urbanization as well as substitution away from traditional coarse grains,” the report said.

Rice imports (mostly parboiled rice from Thailand and India entering through informal cross-border channels) are expected to increase by about 12% to 2.9 million tonnes in 2018-19, it said.

Wheat consumption in Nigeria is also on the rise, projected up 5% in 2018-19 to 5 million tonnes.

While domestic production remains small, at 60,000 tonnes, imports are projected to increase from 5.2 million tonnes in 2017-18 to 5.4 million this year.

The Boko Haram insurgencies and the pastoralist-farmers conflicts in northern Nigeria have led to population displacement and an influx of refuges and caused severe food insecurity in that area, the report said. Over 2 million people in the region are now depending on food assistance.

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