The Nigerian government plans to review the effective ban on the import of rice and other staple foods like wheat and fish that was introduced by the former administration. After a meeting between the ministry of agriculture and rural development and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, the government has pledged to focus on achieving self-sufficiency in rice production before imposing limits on imports.
This will be a relief to rice importers whose stocks were shuttered by the government last month in retaliation for the alleged non-payment of import duties worth N21.3bn ($105.9 million). The resumption of imports should ease pressure on rice supply, as Nigeria’s limited local production (around 1million tonnes) cannot keep pace with galloping demand. This should help lower inflationary pressures, sparing cash-strapped Nigerian consumers from spiking rice prices. However, it is unclear if this review signals the abandonment of efforts to increase local rice production, or whether it is a temporary measure to ease the country through its current economic malaise.