James Emejo in Abuja
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, said the country would begin to export its brand of rice within the next two years.
He said the closure of the country’s land borders had resulted in increased output by various rice milling plants which were hitherto operating below installed capacity prior to the closure.
Speaking during a working visit of the Nestle Nigeria Plc in Lagos, the minister noted that with the improved production rate, Nigerian rice would soon be exported.
“Before the closure of our land border, most of these rice milling plants were partially operating, but now they not only operate in full capacity but are also expanding.
“If we maintain the momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries. I was worried in terms of the production of rice, but what I have found out is that most rice producers have stocked rice for the next six months. This means that before the stock is finished, dry season rice will be harvested, and before that finishes, the rainy season will come back,” he said.
The minister explained that the country cultivates rice in a nine-month cycle, adding that “probably as we move on, the cycle will widen, so we do not have a problem with rice processing.”
He also noted that there had been expansion of local rice value chain as well as the creation of more jobs due to an increase in rice production.
He said: “As at today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day.
“In a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day is going to be opened, with another upcoming 34 smaller mills; then, we have clusters in different areas.”
He added that the local rice farmers were fully engaged and used between 200 and 300 farmlands directly and lauded Nestle Nigeria for its role in assisting local farmers and creating jobs for Nigerians.