Olam Nigeria Ltd., said its foray into rice farming was to help propel the country to becomeÂ one of the leading rice producing and exporting nations.
The top ten rice producing countries as follows with China and India accounting for over half of the worldâ€™s rice supply (China 182 million tons (28.8% of global rice harvest), India 136.5 million tons (21.6%),. Indonesia 54.4 million tons (8.6%), Bangladesh 43.7 million tons (6.9%),Â Vietnam 35.8 million tons (5.7%). Thailand 29.3 million tons (4.6%),7. Myanamar 25.2 million tons (4%), Philippines 15.3 million tons (2.4%), Brazil 11.5 million tons (1.8%), and Japan 10.7 million tons (1.7%).
Mr Mukul Mathur, Country Head Representative of Olam Nigeria , said that the company started commodity export in Nigeria about 20 years ago and focused mainly on four basic crops then which are cocoa, cashew nuts, cotton and wood and have eventually diversified into some other crops such as rice farming, sesame and ginger production.
â€œ Our vision is to ensure that about 80 to 90 commodities are processed for export to derive the multiplier effect to the economy.â€
He urged the government to partner with vibrant private companies to boost rice production revive the sector saying that â€œ Some of these private sector firms are reliable and closer to farmers to motivate them.â€
Olam, he said, has also been playing leading role in the cocoa growing belt of southwestern part of the country , particularly in Ondo and Osun state .
He said that the company has been complementing the efforts of the States Government in improving the production of the tree crops in these states and also enhance quality of agriculture produce We observe that cultivation and commitment on the part of the farmers started declining, resulting in drop in productivity and income for the farmers. The company decided to venture into series of initiatives that can spur more cultivation, increased production.
â€œIn addition to motivating the older farmers to stay in the farm and serve as testimony for the youths to be attracted to the sector, we invested more on the companyâ€™s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is to ensure that sustainability is achieved and profitability growth continues as well as managing our business in a way which is supportive to communities, ensure a safe and productive workplace and friendly environment.
â€œTo share their overhead cost, the company decided to distribute 3 million seedlings annually in some cocoa producing states in the southwest for the past five years for new plantations,â€ he said.
â€œ We have expanded the company scope of social responsibility in the past five years to include seedlings and crop protection distribution to farmers
â€œWe want to ensure sustainability of Nigeria commodity agriculture through farm best practice, processing, capacity building and market access,â€™â€™ he said.
The various initiatives were also put in place because the company does not want to convent the domestic use of these crops.
More so effort to increase production of the crops will help to diversify the nationâ€™s economy from oil and gas revenue base, create employment and more income for the farmersHe said that the company decided to focus into someÂ major crops such as cashew, cocoa, ginger, sesame, cotton and rice becauseÂ Nigeria have opportunity to increase production of these crops and have a niche at the international market.