Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Local Farmers to Add 2.9m Metric Tonnes to Nigeria’s Rice Stock..

 Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina
About 2.9 million metric tonnes of high quality milled rice from indigenous producers is expected to be available from the 2014 season, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, made this announcement while inspecting a 420-hectare rice farm and mill belonging to Olam Nigeria Limited in Rukubi, near Doma, Nasarawa State.
He said: “This would bring Nigeria closer to being self-sufficient in rice production and a potential exporter of milled rice.”
According to him, 1.9 million metric tonnes of the commodity was produced in the 2013 dry and wet seasons, contributing N320 billion to the GDP and creating 670,000 jobs in the process.
He said the federal government’s ‘rice revolution’ was gaining added momentum with a projected 2.9 million metric tonnes of rice in 2014.
He added that with the  importation at about 1.9 to 2.0 million metric tonnes per annum, Nigeria is now already at the exit door from importation.
“We are going to be  the Thailand of Africa in terms of rice production and export,” Adesina said.
“Nigeria has also seen other prime players investing in the rice value chain.
“Multinational conglomerate 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.
“Stallion now operates a fully integrated state-of-the-art rice mill in the country with an aggregate capacity of 360,000 metric tonnes per annum and is producing premium varieties of rice from local paddy being marketed under the names “Royal Stallion Shinkafa” and “Super Champion’’ which are now very popular in the country.
The minister added that the federal government is putting in place the enabling environment for production of rice on small, medium and large-scale, through its Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) for the rice value chain, under the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA), launched in 2011.
He further disclosed that these new varieties have revolutionised rice production in Nigeria, as the ministry – through seed companies – has consistently multiplied and distributed seeds to farmers for cultivation since 2011 when the implementation GES commenced.
In addition to seed and extension support to farmers, the minister listed the development and strengthening of other elements of the rice value chain, including subsidised inputs, mechanisation services through Agricultural Equipment Hiring Service (AEHE) for which financing support is accessible through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and the Bank of Industry (BoI).
The minister, who was visibly impressed with the wide hectarage under cultivation, the growing stockpile of mill-ready paddy rice, mechanised planting and harvesting operations and land preparation for new planting, all going on simultaneously with the installation of the 600 metric tonnes capacity mill, stated that all the factors favourable for growing and processing large quantities of rice, are not only already in place in the country but effectively working also.
Adesina disclosed that, prior to the launch of the ATA in 2011, only one integrated rice mill was in place but with the federal government scheme, 12 others mills have been added, with the 60,000 tonne Olam farm mill expected to commence milling in June, bringing the number of new rice mills to 13 within three years. Other than these, he said, the small mills, which, according to him are now 4,350 in number and growing at an annual rate of 40 per cent, are the major rice milling drivers.
The minister equally disclosed that paddy bulking and aggregation centres, a bridge between rice farmers and millers, are going to be set up to effectively address the problems of stock supply security identified by investors in a commissioned study as a concern, along with poor infrastructure and access to credit.
The paddy bulking and aggregation centres will stock, assess and grade paddy sourced from growers with a view to creating easy access to millers that may have neither farms nor paddy supply from farmers.
These facilities, Adesina said, will further bolster Nigeria’s rice production capacity along with 15 rice and other staple crop processing zone (SCPZ) to be set up at various locations in the country, with a projected contribution of adding $9.0 billion to the GDP.

Earlier, while briefing the minister and his entourage, as well as journalists who visited the Olam farm for progress assessment, the country head of the farm, Mukul Mathur and the Rukubi farm manager, RegiGeorge, stated that Olam farm is a subsidiary of Kewalrams Group, which has been in Nigeria for 150 years and in different sectors of agriculture for 25 years.

The company’s foray into rice farming began four years ago, with the $72 million Rukubi rice farm and mill being its biggest commitment yet.
The company disclosed that currently, the farm has a target of putting 4,600 hectares under cultivation with 3,000 hectares already cultivated in both the dry and wet seasons.

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