By Ejiofor Alike in Lagos and James Emejo
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has said Nigeria is ready to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
He spoke at the weekend when he visited Popular Farm & Mills Limited, a Stallion Group Company, in Kano State, and said that Nigeria has the necessary resources to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
The minister visited the rice mills along with his Special Adviser, Prof. Sabagi; a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Munir Baba; and the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs. K.I Babangida.
He stated that the country’s locally produced rice would be able to compete favourably in the global market when the exportation of the commodity begins in 2022.
He said if the current revolution in rice production could be sustained, Nigeria would become a rice-exporting nation.
According to him, there are over 50,000 graduates of agriculture who can get associated with Agric Extension Services to drive better yield in the country.
He added that new technologies in farming should now percolate from the research institutes to actual farming practices in the field.
The minister stated that the federal government will soon introduce mechanisation hub for all the 650 local government areas that will support the farming community with training and stocking of farming equipment like tractors, power tillers, and harvester combiners.
“I see no reason why a 50kg bag of rice should be sold for N17,000, the same paddy rice is sold at N8,500 and maximum processing expense is N2,000 making a total of N10,500. It is unpatriotic to sell a bag more than N14,000 – N15,000,” the minister said.
Nanono promised to hold a meeting with rice millers on how to crash the price of rice.
The minister commended Stallion Group’s Popular Farms and Mills Limited (PFML), for investing over $70 million to boost production of agric business, especially rice and sesame in Nigeria.
He applauded Popular Farm’s local rice value chain from farmers to final retailers and clearly sees the huge potential and feels hugely encouraged.
The minister also said the government was contemplating on initiating the privatisation of the fertilizer business and the use of husk as bio fuel to run the rice mills for better output.
As an organisation, PFML said it was pushing forward the agenda of opportunity, sufficiency and security in the country.
The minister agreed that Stallion Group has transformed itself into a productive and community sensitive company helping out-growers with all farming needs.
The group is investing further in additional milling facilities to obtain self-sufficiency in rice, locally.
Some of the popular brands from the company are Tomato King, Double Bull, People’s Princess and Super Champion.
Stallion Group’s Popular Farms and Mills said it registered the best quarterly sale of rice post Nigeria’s land border closure.
According to the company, the border closure has definitely boosted the local agriculture in Africa’s most populous country.
“The policy roll out did come with some very severe short-term effects of price inflation and undesirable impact on legal cross border trade. But nonetheless it was essential for a turnaround in the economy,” the company added.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Popular Farms & Mills Limited, Mr. Amit Kumar Rai, stated that the company had entered into a partnership with over 1,151 cooperative groups, having 41,486 member-farmers as well as 65,715ha of rice farm area for developing the rice business.
According to him, the group organises training and distributes rice farming tools free of cost to out-growers across the rice producing states in Nigeria as a part of fulfilment of dedicated service towards achieving its rice value chain initiative.
He also added the group believes that focus on empowering communities leads to more progressive farmers and greater economic and social opportunities for households.