…says FG’s move for rice self-sufficiency achievable
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AS the Federal Government moves to be self sufficient in rice production and supply from 2017, rice production giant and maker of Mama’s Pride and Chef’s Choice brands of rice, Olam Nigeria, has increased paddy rice production by 40, 000 metric tonnes.
This was disclosed by the General Manager, Project Coordinator, Olam Rice Farm, Mahesh Nimje, while expressing optimism over Federal Government’s move for rice self-sufficiency would be achieved in a no distant time and save the country huge importation bill, and said Olam has started the process to realise the goal of the government.
Nimje said the current feat of scaling rice production by 40, 000mt was based on two crop circles planted, which were the wet and dry seasons.
According to him, the company has planted the four varieties of high-yield rice tested with the West African Rice Development Association.
He further explained that the company has increased hectares for rice cultivation from 3, 800 to 4,500 that are already under cultivation, with a further 3000 hectares on target for 2016/17, and by 2018 they would scale the hectares to 13, 500.
The current demand of rice demand in the country stands at about 6mmt, while the supply has been 3.5 million metric tonnes, with a supply gap of 2.5million metric tonnes. The way out to bridge the gap will be massive in-flow of direct foreign investors like Olam into the rice sub-sector.
However, government has been urged by stakeholders in the rice subsector to increase access to the Central Bank’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme, and engage farmers on trainings in rice production, and favourable policies to attract investors.
He said: “We believe achieving self sufficiency in rice production and consumption is possible in not distant time by the Federal Government because we in Olam Rice Farm have scaled up our paddy rice production by 40, 000 metric tonnes per year now in two circles of planting and that is during the wet and dry seasons. Our rice mill has a milling capacity of 210, 000 tonnes. Currently, we mill 180 tonnes of pure rice per day and 288 tonnes of paddy rice per day.
“This is indicative in our 2016 bumper harvest, and we believe that Nigeria is close to achieving its target of rice sufficiency. The rice industry has benchmarked our brand Mama’s Pride rice with the imported Thailand rice because of the quality it has, and now Nigerians consume high quality local rice.
“Olam’s effort as you can see is all rice farm and that has challenged the communities around which the people also have gone into serious rice farming. Olam has been giving support to rice out-growers in the community with supply of fertilisers and cheaper seeds, and also free training.”
He also made known that there are 1000 workers employed on the farm and has also increased farmers registered and traceable under the company’s out-growers scheme from 3000 to 5000, who will cultivate 5500 hectares of land with support of the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.