The rice market in West Africa
Africa as a whole imports about 12m MT of rice annually. At an average import parity price of $700/MT this amount of import equates to around $8bn a year. In the 12 years to 2012 rice import increased nearly 3 folds due much higher growth rate of rice consumption compared to rice production.
In West Africa rice is the staple food. like elsewhere in Africa, rice consumption has outstripped local supply. As a result, West Africa has become the world’s largest rice importer. West Africa spends about US$3bn annually importing rice, with a significant amount coming from Vietnam and other Asian countries. Nigeria alone spends US$2bn a year, followed by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Liberia, a much smaller country, spends near US$200m a year.
The main reason for this significant import is low yields due to inefficient farming techniques. While most West African countries register yields of less than 2MT/ha, Vietnam achieves an average of 5.3 MT/ha. Other reasons include a lack of access to market for locally produced rice.