9:48 AM September 17, 2021

Rice imports depleting Nigeria, others’ foreign reserves, says ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States has said that the demand for rice surpasses supply in most West African countries, forcing the countries to import to make up for the deficit.

This development, it added, was depleting the foreign reserves of the 15 nations that make up the ECOWAS regional bloc, stating that the sub-region remained at 60 per cent self-sufficiency in rice production.

Speaking at the presentation of a regional action plan to implement its rice policy,  commonly  known  as  the  ‘Rice Offensive’ in Abuja on Tuesday, the  ECOWAS Commissioner of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr Sekou Sangare, said producing enough rice to feed the region would require concerted efforts and an effectively coordinated synergy of actions from all rice stakeholders in the region.

He stated, “Rice is one of the primary staple food for most of the 380 million people living in West Africa.

“Therefore, its sustainable production and transformation are crucial to the food and nutrition security of the region. Other major staples include maize, millet, sorghum, and wheat. The region remains at 60 per cent self-sufficiency in rice production.

“While the total rice production in the 15 (ECOWAS) countries increased from 8.63 metric tonnes in 2010 to 13.72MT (milled equivalent) in 2019, rice consumption grew by 35 per cent, faster than expected with almost 15.83MT of rice consumed in 2017 alone.”

The Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at the ECOWAS Commission, Alain Traore noted that West Africa currently depended on imports to meet expanding demand.

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