Nigeria will soon to be self-sufficient in rice production and will have enough of the product to export to African countries
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 9, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE federal government is ready to add more than 2.9 million metric tonnes of high quality milled rice to the existing stock in the country. Akinwumi Adesina, minister of agriculture and rural development, said the addition would bring Nigeria closer to being self-sufficiency in rice production and a potential exporter of milled rice.
In a statement issued by the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development after the minister inspected a 420-hectare rice farm and mill belonging to OLAM Nigeria in Rukubi, near Doma, Nasarawa State, Akinwumi said 1.9 million metric tonnes of rice were produced in the country in the 2013 dry and wet seasons, contributing N320billion to the Gross Domestic Product and creating 670,000 jobs in the process.
According to him, government’s ‘rice revolution’ was gaining momentum, with projected 2.9 million metric tonnes of the grain in 2014. With importation at about 1.9 million to 2.0 million metric tonnes per annum, Nigeria is already at the exit door of rice importation. “We are going to be the Thailand of Africa in terms of rice production and export. Nigeria has also seen other prime players investing in the rice value chain. A multinational conglomerate, the Stallion Group, has established fully integrated agricultural operations, including world-class rice mills at strategic locations to promote milling and paddy cultivation in the captive areas. The group has fully backward-integrated its rice value chain vis a vis production, procurement through collection centre, association with co-operatives and farmers, logistic and post-harvest services, marketing and acting as a catalyst toward sustainable growth,” he said.
Also, the federal government was putting in place the enabling environment for the production of rice on small, medium and large-scale through its Growth Enhancement Support Scheme for the rice value chain under the Agriculture Transformation Agenda launched in 2011. New varieties of the produce had revolutionised rice production in Nigeria, as the ministry, through seed companies, had consistently multiplied and distributed seeds to farmers for cultivation since 2011 when the implementation of the GES commenced.
Besides seed and extension support to farmers, efforts were ongoing to develop and strengthen other elements of the rice value chain, including subsidised inputs and mechanisation services through the Agricultural Equipment Hiring Service for which financing support was accessible through the Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry.
The minister, who was visibly impressed with the wide land area under cultivation, the growing stockpile of mill-ready paddy rice, mechanised planting, harvesting operations and land preparation for a new planting season, as well as the installation of the 600-metric-tonne capacity mill, said that all the factors favourable for growing and processing large quantities of rice were not only already in place in the country, but effectively working. “Prior to the launch of the ATA in 2011, only one integrated rice mill was in place; but in addition to 12 others, the 60,000-tonne OLAM Farm Mill expected to commence milling in June brings the number of mills to 13 within three years. Small mills, which are now 4,350 in number, growing at an annual rate of 40 per cent, are the major rice milling drivers.”
Paddy bulking and aggregation centres which serve as a bridge between rice farmers and millers will be established to effectively tackle problems of stock supply security identified by investors, including poor infrastructure and access to credit.
The positive developments recorded in the agriculture sector have also earned commendations from the Nigerian Rice Investors’ Group. The group lauded the import quota allocation given to rice investors in the country as a step in the right direction. It said the rice import quota policy of the federal government was geared towards self-sufficiency in rice production in the country. It said this was the first time import quota was being allocated to the right people with verifiable investments in rice production.
Tunde Owoeye, president of the group, said the rice policy of the present administration was visible for all to see. “If you travel through Zamfara, Niger, Benue, Sokoto and many other states in the country, you will see vast plantations of rice in the last two years. We have also seen some of our members who were traders make huge investments in local rice production. We have seen increase in employment and value creation in the rice sector,” he said.