By Ngozi Onyeakusi — Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that volume of rice importation into Nigeria (in metric tonnes) has reduced drastically in 2018.

Similarly, according to figures obtained from various official sources. Indeed, figures obtained from India and Thailand, which are dominant rice exporters to Nigeria indicate that as at September, the latter had so far exported about 5,161 metric tonnes of rice to Nigeria, while the former sold only a paltry 426 tonnes as at July 2018.

Attributing the reduction to concerted effort by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Director, Corporate Communications at the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor while exchanging views with news men, also confirmed that the Bank had not allocated any foreign exchange for the importation of rice this year.

According to Mr. Okorafor, the figures being bandied in certain quarters were based on unrealistic assumptions such as satellite mapping of farms, expected demand by politicians for election campaigns as well as expected losses from flooding, all of which led to unauthentic conclusions that the country had imported or could import 400,000 more metric tonnes.

The Spokesperson for the CBN further noted that the combined figure of 5, 587 tonnes of rice imports from India and Thailand may have been rice imported on not-valid-for-forex basis.

Meanwhile, trade figures for the second quarter of 2018 received from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that total imports value was N2,106.7 billion; -16.3% lower than Q1, 2018 (N2518.26 billion) and – 19.9%% lower than Q1, 2017 (N2,631.65 billion). The report on the Bureau’s site showed that the value of imported agricultural goods in the second quarter of 2018 (N224.52 billion) increased by 21.7% from Q1, 2018 (N184.49 billion) and lower by -3.14% from Q2, 2017 (N231.80 billion).

According to the report, raw materials imports in Q2 2018 (N261.10 billion) declined by -8.3%% compared to Q1, 2018 (N284.81 billion) and lower by -14.2%% compared to Q2, 2017 (N304.43 billion). The solid minerals import in Q2, 2018 (N17.29 billion) increased by 37.0% on a quarter-to-quarter basis (N12.62 billion), but declined by -91.0% on a year-to-year basis (N193.16 billion). Energy goods imports in Q2, 2018 (N98.17 million) was 202.6% higher than Q1 2018 (N32.45 million), and 288.5%% higher than Q2, 2017 (N25.27 million).

The NBS reports that the value of manufactured goods imported in Q2 2018 (N1,175.86 billion) declined by -1.2% over the previous quarter (N1,189.97 billion) but increased by 1.6% over the same quarter in 2017.

It will be recalled that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the CBN had been collaborating to reduce the volume of rice importation through what has become famed as the Rice Revolution.