Inside Olam Rice Farm
nieghbouring villages and towns, joblessness will soon become a thing of the past. The farm will certainly be a major player in rice production in Nigeria.
According to the farm manager, the Indian company has so far spent over N12 billion, with investment likely to double by the time the project is fully completed.
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who visited the farm last week, said the country is witnessing a new era in rice production, adding that importation will soon stop as the country steps up local production to meet the 2015 target for self sufficiency in rice.
Adesina noted that poverty is not an industry and, as such, it should not be grown in Nigeria. “We must stop exporting jobs and importing poverty,” he stressed.
He reckoned that for Nigeria to become self sufficient in rice, we must be producing at least 5 million metric tonnes of rice annually.
He added: “With what I see here today, I see no reason why we should not be self-sufficient or exporting rice from Nigeria. This is commercial agriculture which we need to have with our own small holder agriculture. They are working right now to also have almost 3,000 out grower farmers around them.”
The minister noted that the country produced in 2012/2013 season a total of 1.4 million metric tonnes of paddy rice. By 2013/2014 dry season, it increased production by 2.94 million metric tonnes of paddy rice, he added.
“If you convert that into mill equivalent that will give you about 1.9 million metric tonnes of high quality milled rice,” the minister said.
Adesina was confident that with what he saw in Olam Rice farm, Nigeria will soon export rice if the smaller integrated rice millers and producers are also encouraged all over the country.
Olam also produces the high yielding quality seeds that are distributed to farmers under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) - a scheme that gets subsidised inputs directly to farmers through their mobile phones.
Adesina also announced that the Olam Rice Farm is going to be a Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) bringing the number to be so established across the country to 15. With this, he said, power and good road will be provided to the farm in order to cut the cost of operating on diesel.
For Adesina, the $72 million of investment in rice production by Olam Rice Farm is making things work.
“I firmly believe Nigeria will be a net exporter of rice, we should be the Thailand for rice in Africa,” he said.
The combine harvesters in action in the farm