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Sustain Buhari’s policy on food production, rice processors urge Tinubu



The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) has called on the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, to sustain ongoing initiatives on food production for economic development.

The Director-General of RIPAN, Mr Andy Ekwelem, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference.

The Newsmen reports that the theme of the conference was “Strategies for Deepening and Strengthening the Nigeria Rice Sub-Sector towards More Sustainable Development.

According to Ekwelem, RIPAN is an association of investors in integrated rice processing, formed as a direct response to the Federal Government of Nigeria’s deliberate initiative to grow local capacity in rice.

“Members of the association and indeed other actors in the rice processing and milling sub-sector are presently key players and major contributors to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Our processing and milling activities contribute several thousands of direct employments and millions of indirect employments to the various stakeholders in the rice value chain and other complementary sectors, ” he said.

He said that the rice industry was the single largest employer of labour in Nigeria, providing jobs for over 13 million people.

“These include direct staff, casual worker, haulage service providers, agrochemical and input suppliers and of course millions of small holder rural farmers who are made up of majorly youths and women,” he said.

According to him, the Nigeria rice industry has enjoyed considerable support from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Before the current administration, Nigeria officially allowed imported rice into the country.

“As at the last quarter of 2014, official rice import into Nigeria from Thailand was about 1.24 million tonnes of rice; by the end of 2015, these imports had dropped to about 644,131meric tonnes, and by the end of 2016, it dropped to 58,260 metric tonnes.

“In 2017, the imports further dropped to 23,192 metric tonnes but by 2022, it dropped to an all-time minimal of 438MT.

“The reason for the drops – which to us at RIPAN is a very positive development – is nothing more than Mr President’s hard stand approach against food importation,” he said.

He commended Buhari for his agricultural development initiatives that had boosted food production over the years.

“Recall that President Buhari is a strong advocate of “grow what you eat and eat what you can grow”.

“To ensure that he walked his talk, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), he launched various programmes that encouraged local production and processing of rice.

” Programme such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the Paddy Aggregation Scheme, the Private Sector-Led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility (RSSF) were floated.

“They where deliberate strategies that encouraged indigenous and foreign business concerns to invest massively in the rice value chain.

“Today, Nigeria boasts of over 100 large-scale integrated rice processing facilities scattered across the country.

“This is more than 700 per cent increase from the mere 13 integrated mills operating in the country between 2010 and 2014,” he said.

He also commended Buhari for his various initiatives to encourage consumption of locally produced rice.

“To ensure that product dumping and other forms of international trade malpractice do not affect the huge private-sector investments as well as the various programmes of government, the CBN placed restrictions on importation of food items including rice.

“The apex bank did that by categorising them as not valid for foreign exchange from the CBN’s Foreign Exchange Window.

“To further protect and strengthen the industry, the administration introduced the Border Restriction Policy of 2020,” he said.

He said that before the border restriction policy, there was a maddening proliferation of all manner of items and food stocks, even light arms and small weapons into Nigeria.

“Fortunately, with the Border Restriction Policy of the Buhari administration, the menace was effectively stemmed between the period starting August 2020 and the end of 2021.

“As a matter of fact, over 1.2 million metric tonnes of rice imported to Benin from India and Thailand between May 2019 and August 2019, became trapped in Benin.

“This caused the imports of rice from India to Benin to drop from a monthly average of 75,000 metric tonnes between January and September 2019 to less than 2,000 metric tonnes in the last quarter of 2019.

“Also, the volume of Thai rice imported to Benin Republic fell from a monthly average of 100,000MT to 5,000MT tons by November 2019.

The dividend of all these was that the demand for Nigerian home grown and locally processed rice increased quite immensely, causing an increase in both the production of paddy rice as well as rice processing facility, ” he said.

According to him, in 2020 during the COVID era, Nigerian farmers produced as much as 8.2 million metric tonnes of paddy rice and another 8.4 million tonnes in 2021.

“At the time, all of the paddy produced were off taken by the rice processors/ millers who processed them and supplied good quality finished rice to Nigerians.

” Even as the borders were closed and COVID Pandemic raged on, Nigeria did not suffer lack of food, particularly rice,” he said.

He, however, said that the situation began to deteriorate again after the borders were reopened.

He called on the incoming Tinubu’s administration to emulate some of the laudable policies of the Buhari administration to boost food production.

“The numbers in metric tonnes of paddy rice produced by Nigerian farmers began to decline after the borders were reopened in 2022.

“Smuggling also commenced again in earnest, causing a drop in the volume of paddy offtake by the rice processors/millers.

“Indeed, it is on record that upon the reopening of our borders, official rice import to Benin republic from Thailand rose from meagerly monthly average of 5,000 MT in 2019 to a monthly average of 26,861MT in 2022.

“RIPAN hopes that the incoming administration will follow through some of the laudable policies of the current administration as well as design and launch new ones to further strengthen and sustain the Nigeria Rice Industry,” Ekwelem said.

On prices, he said that Nigerian rice were most affordable, adding that the expensive rice were the imported ones which people wrongfully refer to as local rice.

“No Nigerian rice costs more than N31,000 ex factory price, ” he said.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate climbs to 28.92%, marks twelfth straight month of increase




By Sodiq Adelakun


Inflation in Nigeria continued to rise for the twelfth consecutive month in December, with the headline inflation rate reaching 28.92%, up from 28.20% in November.


The National Bureau of Statistics released its consumer price index report on Monday, revealing the ongoing impact of inflation on the country’s economy.


More details to come…

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Inflationary pressures to ease by December – Economist, Yusuf



The Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf has said the current inflationary pressures might ease by December this year.

Yusuf disclosed this on Sunday in his Half Year Review of 2023.

His review comes amid the effect of fuel subsidy removal and foreign exchange reforms by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

Consequently, the prices of goods and services sharply increased.

The National Bureau of Statistics said Nigeria’s inflation is 22.41 per cent. Nigerians have continued to lament the hike in the prices of goods and services.

Meanwhile, Yusuf said that the effect of fuel subsidy removal and forex reforms would be in the short term.

According to him, the challenges would gradually reduce before the year ends.

Meanwhile, Yusuf said the CBN should implement a sustainable intervention framework to moderate the volatility in the forex market.

“Inflationary pressure is expected to ease before the end of the year.

“It would pave the way for an equilibrium exchange rate which would be more tolerable and sustainable”, he stated.

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World Bank Group inaugurates business ready project



The World Bank Group has begun work to assess the business and investment climate in up to 180 economies under its flagship Business Ready project.

This is contained in a statement issued by the World Bank’s Online Media Briefing Centre, a copy of which was obtained by the Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.

The statement said the Business Ready project is a key instrument of the bank’s new strategy to facilitate private investment, generate employment, and improve productivity.

The project is expected to help countries accelerate development in inclusive and sustainable ways as well as improves upon and replaces the World Bank Group’s earlier Doing Business project.

“It reflects a more balanced and transparent approach toward evaluating a country’s business and investment climate.

“This has been shaped by recommendations from experts from within and outside the World Bank Group, including governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations.”

The statement said the first annual Business Ready report, covering 54 economies, would be published in the Spring of 2024.

“Today, the World Bank Group published two key documents: the Business Ready Manual and Guide, specifying the detailed protocols and safeguards it has put in place to ensure the integrity of the assessments.

“Also, the Business Ready Methodology Handbook, detailing the project’s indicators and scoring methodology.

“Data collection on the business environment of the initial 54 economies is being done through extensive consultations with regulatory experts and nationally representative World Bank Enterprise Surveys, collected by competitively selected survey companies.”

The statement quoted Indermit Gill, World Bank Group’s Chief Economist, as saying “the bank is bringing back a fuller and sharper measure of the investment climate of countries.”

Gill, who is also the Bank’s Senior Vice-President for Development Economics, said this was something that is needed in a global economy experiencing slowdown.

“Governments that do more to make their economies business-ready will do better in reviving private investment, creating jobs, and quickening the transition to cleaner energy.”

The statement quoted Norman Loayza, Director, World Bank’s Indicators Group, which leads the project, as saying “the Business Ready project represents a new approach to assessing the business and investment climates.

“The Business Ready approach aims to establish a better balance between the ease of conducting a business and the broader implications for society as a whole.

“It gives a more positive role for governments, advocating for better public services for businesses.”

Loayza said in addition to experts’ assessments, the project includes direct information from entrepreneurs and managers on their experience navigating the economy’s business environment.

The statement said Business Ready focused on 10 topics covering the lifecycle of a firm in the course of starting, operating, or closing or reorganising its activities.

“These include Business Entry, Business Location, Utility Services, Labour, Financial Services, International Trade, Taxation, Dispute Resolution, Market Competition, and Business Insolvency.”

It said over the next three years, the project would grow to cover about 180 economies worldwide annually.

The statement said it would start with 54 economies in 2023-2024, 120 economies in 2024-2025, and reach 180 economies in 2025-2026.

It said the project’s objective was reflected in its name to make each country’s economic environment ready for a dynamic private sector.

“The name highlights the fact that economies exist in different stages of readiness and that governments play a key role in creating a business environment that is conducive for sustainable development.”

The statement said transparency would be a key feature of Business Ready’s safeguards for data integrity.

“All information collected by the project, raw granular data, scores, as well as the calculations used to obtain the scores will be made publicly available on the project website.

“Moreover, all results presented in the reports will be replicable using straightforward toolkits available on the website.”

The statement said the World Bank Group has long been a leader in spurring business-regulatory reforms across the world.

“Its assessments of the business-enabling environment worldwide helped spur nearly 4,000 regulatory reforms in developing and developed economies over the past two decades.

“They also significantly advanced academic research in this area, resulting in 4,000 peer-reviewed research papers and at least 10,000 working papers.”

It said countries, moreover, often use these assessments to shape their development strategies.

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