… Says Nigerians now consume quality rice
By Gabriel Ewepu
LAFIA- ON the move to ban importation of rice into the country in 2017, a rice production giant, OLAM Nigeria, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to embark on gradual process to close the supply gap of 2.5 million tonnes in five years.
This was stated by the General Manager, GM, Project Coordinator, OLAM Nigeria, Mahesh Nimje, while conducting a media tour of the company’s rice farm and mill in Rukubi, Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, where he said rice produced by the company has been of high quality for local consumption.
Nimje reacting to the move said the Federal Government should support and provide more enabling environment for local investors and farmers to close the huge supply gap of 2.5 million tonnes before finally banning rice importation into the country.
According to him on enhancing domestic food security through scaling up rice cultivation, Olam has started developing a 13,500 hectares fully irrigated paddy farm on greenfield site in Ondorie, Nasarawa State.
He further stated that the farm will be expecting a yield of 10mt per hectare (over two annual crop cycles), based on four varieties of high-yield rice tested with the West African Rice Development Association, which 4,040 hectares are already under cultivation, with a further 3000 hectares on target for 2016/17, and 1000 workers are employed on the farm.
He said: “There is the supply gap of 2.5 million tonnes and the demand is still high, that is the reason why demand has gone up more than the supply. So that gap cannot be filled within one or two years but five years for the government to encourage efforts of the local producers of rice, like the Anchor Borrower Scheme, more support to farmers, training institutes for farmers, and also should encourage international companies to establish farm like Olam.
“In the last one year there has not been much importers, the effort of government has yield some results, but not that much to bridge the entire gap. The 2017 ban of rice importation is too closer because the gap is still 2.5 million tonnes.
“Like Olam’s effort as you can see is all rice farm and that has challenged the communities around which the people have gone into serious rice farming, and they need more facilities. With the encouragement from the government the gap can be closed but it will take five years.
“It will take five years for government to achieve that target, but they should keep that will power and good work of supporting the farmers, international farmers to establish like Olam.”
He also urged the government to continue its support for local rice farmers and millers to close the supply gap, as Olam has been giving support to rice out-growers in the community with supply of fertilisers and cheaper seeds, and also free training.
“We urge organisations like the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to help farmers get some credit for yield per hectare. Government should put in more efforts and support to rice farmers with the Anchor Borrowers Scheme and IFAD assisted programme, and also give better environment to companies here in Nigeria, and it will attract other investors to come into the rice sub-sector”, he stated.