OLAM Nigeria Limited has disbursed N309 million as loan to 450 farmersâ€™ groups in the local government areas of Patigi, Moro, Edu and Ilorin East and South of Kwara.
The loan was given under the rice outgrowers initiative programme to boost production in the area, Mr Vetera Srivathsan, the Managing Director, Olam Nigeria Ltd told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin on Tuesday.
Srivathsan said the programme was a joint venture involving OLAM, Kwara State Government, USAID MARKETS, First Bank and the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Cooperation (NAIC).
He said the partnership was necessitated by the administrationâ€™s desire to make agriculture a major foreign exchange earner and the global efforts to arrest food crisis. He also noted the need for the production of homogeneous quality of paddy to ensure good quality rice.
According to him, the Kwara Government initiated the rice project in 2007 with a 750-hectare farm and 345 farmers. Srivathsan said that as at 2009, the project had been expanded to cover 5,146 hectares with more than 35,000 farmers in the three local government areas with output of 5.5 tonnes per hectare as against 1.5 tonnes previously.
The farmers, he said, received support in the form of certified seeds and herbicides as well as training by USAID MARKETS and Kwara ADP with the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) providing insurance cover.
OLAM is also working with about 40,000 farmers in on other crops such as sesame, cotton, ginger, cashew and cocoa, the managing director said. It learnt that OLAM commenced operations in Nigeria in 1989 with the aim of producing, processing and marketing seven agricultural commodities including cocoa, cotton, ginger, sesame, cashew, sorghum and rice.