Rice imports fall drastically in nine months

The volume of imported rice coming in through one of the nation’s seaports has drastically declined due to dollar scarcity, with government revenue falling sharply in the process.

The importation of rice, a major staple in Nigeria, has declined in volume due to the scarcity of foreign exchange occasioned by falling oil prices.

Statistics obtained from the Tin Can Island Port in Lagos indicated that in the past nine months, the country imported 13.4 metric tonnes of the product. In September 2015, the volume of rice imports was five metric tonnes; it declined to one metric tonne in October and peaked at five metric tonnes in November of the same year.

In December, when rice import was expected to be high due to the festivities, only one metric tonne was imported through the Tin Can port. The volume further dipped to 0.5MT in February 2016, but rose slightly to 0.8MT in March, while 0.1MT was recorded for May 2016.

There was no importation of the commodity through the port in January and April 2016. The value of rice imports through the seaports has been on a steady decline since the first quarter of 2015.

According to the foreign trade report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, semi-milled or wholly milled rice secured the fourth position of all imported commodities in the fourth quarter of 2014 based on its worth of N49.34bn.

However, in the first three months of 2015, rice occupied the third position in the list of imported products with a value of N33.44bn, and dropped to the fifth position with a value of N25.38bn in the second quarter of the year.

The value of rice imports between July and September 2015 declined by 61.8 per cent to N9.69bn, occupying the 15th position, the lowest for all the commodities imported through the seaports in the third quarter of last year.

By the fourth quarter of the same year, rice had completely fallen out from the list of high value imported commodities into Nigeria.

Rice was among the 41 items that the Central Bank of Nigeria excluded from official foreign exchange window in August 2015, leading to difficulties in accessing foreign exchange by importers and high cost of importation when forex is sourced from the black market at over N300 to a dollar.


BD/Abubakar Mohammed