The United States of America’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported that Nigeria and China are now the world leaders as rice importers.
The Department said that Nigeria, with a projected 13 percent jump in 2019 to 3.4 million metric tons, will emerge second largest importer of rice after China next year.
“China and Nigeria are projected to remain the largest rice importing countries in 2019, followed by the EU, Cote d’Ivoire, and Iran.”
In its latest Rice Outlook, the USDA said: “Nigeria and Egypt are projected to account for the bulk of the 2019 import increase.”
There are reports that production had increased more than 50 per cent since 2012 to 3.7 million tons last year. Domestic demand rose 4 per cent to 6.7 million tons in the 2017-18 year that ended in May.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, had earlier warned that Nigeria may face shortages in the supply of rice due to the flood that ravaged the country recently.
Current global production exceeds consumption by 2.3 million tons, according to USDA, with 2018-19 “global ending stocks” projected to reach 163 million tons, 17.8 million tons more than previously forecast.