A rice commodity specialist with the AfricaRice, Dr Philip Idinoba, has said Nigeria could overcome its rice imports challenges within two/ three years with a strict political will and the right policies.

Dr Idinoba, who stated this in an exclusive interview with Leadership recently said Nigeria could easily eliminate the importation of rice if the right things were done.

“The challenges has been low political will to drive very good policies through, lack of policy continuity, limited irrigation infra- structures, poor processing method by cottage millers who currently process over 85 per cent of our national finished rice,” he said.

He however, noted that this could easily be overcome as rice was not a complex crop in terms of its production techniques as it responds very well to good crop management practices on the fields.

According to him, rice could grow in almost all Nigerian production ecologies from mangrove swamps, to rain-fed upland, rain-fed lowlands and irrigated ecologies. The expert noted that Nigeria has come close to rice self-sufficiency twice in recent history but the election years were always a turning point of that dream.

“The Obasonjo government presidential initiative on rice was doing very well and moving toward rice self-sufficiency until 2003 election year when there was massive importation of rice for political campaign and election. The same happened in late 2014 to early 2015, when the rice transformation agenda of the last government was doing very well until massive imports were allowed,” he said.

Idinoba noted that Nigeria did not have major issue with food security if it could improve on aggregation or storage and of course, value every year,

According to him, Nigeria has relatively good output of major commodities like rice, cassava, sorghum, maize, cowpea, plantains, etc, which Nigerians depend upon for household food security. However, the losses he maintained, were also very high both on farms, in transit and in storage.