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Nigeria as Largest Rice Producer in Africa!…Harnessing Nigeria’s Comparative Advantage.

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—-While we thank President Buhari for his policy, Nigeria must harness its comparative advantage to truly become number one!

The news of Nigeria becoming the largest producer of rice in Africa was made known by the Director-General, Africa Rice Centre, Benin Republic, Dr. Harold Roy-Macauley. According to Mr. Roy-Macauley, Nigeria now produces 4 million tonnes a year to overtake Egypt.

When I first read the news my initial reaction was:….Should we be celebrating or shouldn’t it be a time of Sober Reflections!

Egypt was basically producing an average of 4.3 tonnes annually but because of its harsh weather conditions caused by extreme heat, and Egyptian Government’s new policy of preserving water resources, annual rice output reduced by 40%, thus pushing Nigeria to the number position.

A quick comparison between Nigeria and Egypt will help you understand my line of thoughts!!..


POPULATION: 97.55 million (2017 Est.)

LAND SIZE: 1.01 million Sqkm.

But 90% (909,000 Sqkm) of Egypt consist of desert areas, roughly almost the size of Nigeria. Which means Egypt only has 101,000 Sqkm of arable farmland for both population and crop yields. Little or no Agriculture takes place in the desert regions. The two main deserts being the Libyan desert and the Arabian desert.


20mm (0.79 inches) and 200mm (7.87 inches) of Annual Rainfall along the Narrow Mediterranean Coast. But south to Cairo, the average drops to nearly 0mm (0.00 inches) of Rainfall in the central and the Southern parts of the country.


Egypt 2015/16 Rice Production: Yield Reduced by Extreme Heat.


USDA estimates 2015/16 Egyptian rice production at 4.0 million tons milled (5.8 million tons rough). Although Egypt planted a record 0.8 million hectares, production was lower than the five-year average of 4.3 million tons milled (6.2 million tons rough) due to poor yields. During August 2015, temperatures were abnormally high, even by Egyptian standards, causing damage to crops, particularly rice. The extreme heat accelerated crop development, reducing grain size and weight. Rough rice yield for 2015/16 is estimated at 7.25 tons per hectare (MT/Ha), a 25-year low, 28 percent below last year’s record 10.10 MT/Ha, and 22 percent below the 5-year average.



POPULATION: 191 million (2017 Est.)

LAND SIZE: 923,763 Sqkm

There are no actual desert areas except Sahel in the extreme Northern parts of the country. This means agriculture can take place and food crops can be grown in every part of the country.


SOUTHERN PART: Well above the 2,000mm (78.7 inches) average rainfall totals giving for tropical rainforest climate worldwide. Over 4,000mm (157.5 inches) of rainfall received in the coastal regions of Nigeria and around the Niger-Delta regions.

SOUTH EAST: Rest of South East Receives Between 2,000 to 3,000mm (118.1 inches) of rainfall annually.

CENTRAL NIGERIA: Rainfall averages between 1,100mm (43.3 inches) to 2,000mm (78.7 inches).

EXTREME NORTH: Average of 500mm (20 inches) of rainfall.

We got so comfortable through easy policies that we imported everything and it slowly killed the economy!!….Only good leaders help you discover and tap your potentials and Capacity!!..but sometimes it comes through drastic decisions and measures which through persistence and perseverance the goal is achieved, President Buhari should should continue through his policies to promote local cultivation of rice while banning importation.

While Egypt as a whole has a population density of 84 people/Sqkm because of the size of the country and 90% being desert….majority live in the 10% habitable places along the Mediterranean with Cairo having a population density of 46,349 people/Sqkm compared to Lagos which is the most densely populated state with about 6,871 people/Sqkm.

I remember vividly the words my white colleague in Nigeria once told me: “I don’t understand what is wrong with you people, you have the right weather from January 1st to December 31st and you can’t do anything with it, do you know that during winter everything shuts down in Europe”

Nigeria’s Economic Power lies in its comparative advantage and we must learn to use it if are to survive as a nation!!..

Author: Roman Oseghale

Roman Oseghale holds Masters degree in Architecture and a graduate of Executive MBA from the Telfer School of Management and Leadership, University of Ottawa, Canada, he is a Consultant and Business Intelligence Analyst and the CEO of IntelServe Inc. a Canadian Business Consulting Company. He is a passionate analyst and writer on Leadership and Economics, He is a strong advocate of Investing in Human Capital Development to drive Economic Growth and Sustainability.

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