Elephant Group Plc has acquired over 30,000 rice paddy for processing, a development the company said was in line with the Federal Government’s economic diversification mission while also boosting the nation’s self-sufficiency in rice production.
The Executive Director, Operations, Elephant Group Plc, Akin Ogunbiyi, stated that Nigeria has all it takes to become a giant in rice production, maintaining that with the acquisition of the 30,000 rice paddy, the company hopes to bridge the demand gap for Nigerian consumers’ demand for rice which currently stands at 5.8 million tonnes per annum.
Ogunbiyi added that the move was also coming on the heels of the Federal Government’s announcement to achieve self-sufficiency in paddy rice production by 2020.
He revealed that Nigeria is the continent’s leading consumer of rice, one of the largest producers of rice in Africa.
In his words: ‘‘As well as an important food security crop, it is an essential cash crop for it is mainly small-scale producers who commonly sell 80 per cent of total production and consume only 20 per cent. Rice generates more income for Nigerian farmers than any other cash crop in the country.
“Elephant Group is making effective use of its mill and currently producing our own brand of local rice known as Elephant Pride. We get our supply of paddy rice for the mill from across the country, especially the surrounding local comminities. This has encouraged the local rice grower to cultivate more rice through the out-growers scheme, thereby, expanding the agricultural value chain,” he maintained.
It could be recalled that the group formally took over through concession, the running of the Elele Alimini rice processing mill in Rivers State, from the Niger-Delta Development Commission, NDDC. The Elele Alimini Mill has the capacity to process 210 metric tons of paddies of rice per day and with this development, a positive impact has been made on the Nigerian economy because its creating jobs both directly and indirectly and increasing the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP. “It will guarantee food security and also go a long way in supporting Federal Government’s efforts to ensure agricultural sustenance and food sufficiency.”
Ogunbiyi assured of his firm’s readiness to make effective use of the mill, stating that ‘Elephant Pride Rice was available in the open market.
In another development, the Elephant Group in conjunction with the Edo State Government and the Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, has also signed a memorandum of understanding to procure cassava from about 350 farmers that will be benefiting from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme in Edo North Senatorial District of Edo State.
The Edo State Government has approved part of its commitment to the programme which would engage about 150 cassava farmers and 200 youths in the senatorial district participating by cultivating 500 hectares of land for cassava production.
In the agreement, Elephant Group would buy the cassava from the farmers which they would in turn process into cassava flour. The project, according to an insider, is expected to kick off this year. “We want to make the nation sufficient in food, create employment and support the Federal Government’s policy of back-to-land without sole reliance on oil and gas assets,” Ogunbiyi emphasized.
The Elephant Group is a conglomerate in the business of import, export, production, processing, marketing and distribution of agro-commodities throughout the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.