Nigeria is set to ramp up its rice production as the federal government on Monday signed an agreement with an Indian company, MV Agro-Engineers Limited to procure and supply 10 large scale rice mills worth N10.7 billion before the year runs out.
Audu Ogbeh, the minister for agriculture and rural development, signing the pact, said the move was primarily driven by the country’s target at attaining self-sufficiency in rice production.
One of the issues that confront agricultural production in Nigeria is the lack of capacity for processing but with this, Ogbeh said, the rice processing mills will match farmers’ production.
According to him, over 13 million Nigerians are in various farms across the country growing rice and the number could increase to 20 million individuals shortly.
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They will be handed over to off-takers while the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) will oversee the repayment of the loans spread across 10 years.
“We are insistent on achieving self-sufficiency in rice production because we can’t afford over $5 billion dollars a day of importing rice; we don’t have the money and I don’t think any country can afford that line of expenditure. We have to produce our food, we will not depend on imports to produce our food, we cannot survive on a diet of import of everything and we have the land,” he said.
Muyiwa Azeez, the director, agribusiness and marketing in the ministry, said the rice mills will be available to off-takers in 10 states.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in April approved N10.7 billion for the establishment of the 10 rice mills, with estimated daily capacity of 100 tonnes of rice. The benefiting states were listed as Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Anambra, Kaduna, Ogun, Niger and Bauchi.
Frontpage February 7, 2018