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Does Nigeria have world’s largest rice pyramids as claimed by Bashir Ahmad?

Rice, also known as Oryza sativa, is an edible starchy cereal grain that is either prepared by boiling, or grinding into a flour, is a common staple food that is dear to Nigerians. 

Some meals made from rice in Nigeria  include ofada rice,the popular jollof rice, fried rice, coconut rice, tuwon shinkafa, Kunun Gyada etc. 

With the continuous rise in prices in recent years, after the Nigerian government closed the Seme border between Nigeria and Benin Republic in August 2019 to tackle rice smuggling and boost local rice production, prices of rice have been on steady increase. Currently a 50 kilogram bag of rice costs between N23,000 and N30,000, depending on the type of rice. 

On Tuesday, January, 18, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled a one million paddy rice pyramid at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

The rice pyramid is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN). According to a report by Channels Television the rice pyramid is considered the biggest of its type in Africa.

Amidst the excitement about this feat which farmer groups believe will cause a fall in the price of rice, the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media Matters, Bashir Ahmad (@BashurAhmaad), claims this rice pyramid is the largest in the world. 

“President @MBuhari unveils world’s largest Rice Pyramid this morning in Abuja” he Tweeted

Screenshot of Bashir Ahmad’s Twitter post.

The need to clarify whether this rice pyramid is the largest in Africa as reported or the world as Bashir Ahmad claims, prompted Dubawa to do this check.

Rice pyramid and rice production 

A keyword search did not find the term “rice pyramid” independent or related to rice production except for news reports on the rice pyramid launch in Nigeria.

Rice production involves several processes that transform the rough rice (paddy) harvested to the ready to cook rice we all know (the milled rice). 

Screenshot of rice processing.

Reports put the number of pyramids launched by the president at 13, made up the one million rice paddy. Nigerians are familiar with the term “bag of rice” which can either be in 50 KG or 25 KG but the term “rice paddy” is unfamiliar. So what exactly is rice paddy?

Rice paddy or paddy rice also known as rough rice, is the whole rice grain with the hulls (the hard protective coverings of grains) while milled rice is the white rice you have after the bran (the hard outer layers of cereal grain) has been removed. The latter is the type often found in stores for cooking. This document properly breaks down the difference between paddy rice and milled rice.

Available data on rice production indicates that the quantity of rice produced is measured in metric tonnes and Kilograms (KG) not pyramids. We therefore sought to get the quantity of the rice paddy that made up the pyramid from RIFAN so this can help convert and compare measurement. However, we are yet to get this information from the association. 

Also, we reached out to Bashir Ahmad, via texts and calls, to ask for his source or basis for this comparison, but got no response as of press time.

Data by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), shows that the top 10 rice producers in the world from 2016 to 2021 are; China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Philippines, Brazil, and Japan. The country with the highest production is China with 148,032 tonnes of milled rice.

Screenshot of USDA’s data.

Statista’s data for 2019/2020 also shows these countries top the chart.

Screenshot of statista’s data.

Recent data by indexmundi.com credited to the USDA for 2021 showed Nigeria as number 14 on the chart with 5,000 metric tonnes of milled rice. 

Screenshot of indexmundi’s chart showing rice production by country. 

While we can’t find rice pyramids or data on rice pyramids for other countries, available information on global rice production shows Nigeria is not on the top of the chart but at number 14 with 5,000 tonnes of milled rice. No available record exists to rank paddy  rice pyramids.

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  1. May be this is the first of it kind , when you come up with your finding nest time you may have NIGERIA as number One Rice pyramid in the world with the picture of the one we all saw in ABUJA NIGERIA.

  2. Nigeria and Nigerians need to triple our efforts to reach top 10 nations rice producers. Exports one third 1/3 to earn foreign exchange and improve our foreign reserves, then consumes two thirds 2/3 in order to reduce costs of rice consumption to Nigerians, discourage importation, stimulate local production, expand employment opportunities to more able bodies youths and all the unemployable.

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