By Steve Agbota
Olam Nigeria Limited has invested about $1 billion to boost productivity in the nation’s agricultural sector.
The company’s Vice President, Reji George, who disclosed this in Abuja, said the investment was made over the last 26 years of the firm’s operation in Nigeria.
He said the company’s goals in Nigeria include to ensure food security, attainment of self-sufficiency in food production and facilitation of the nation’s quest to become a rice-exporting nation.
According to him, Olam had inaugurated a 36,000-tonne-per-annum multi-million dollar integrated rice mill in Nasarawa State in order to achieve its goals.
He added: “The 3,000 hectares of land under cultivation on the 6,000-hectare paddy farm where the rice mill is located, is being increased to 10,000 hectares and will become the largest rice farm in Africa. The mill has given direct employment to 1,000 people from the surrounding communities. The total investment in the integrated farm, the mill and other facilities amounts to $111 million.”
He hinted that under the company’s out-grower programme, adjoining rice-growing communities received support in form of training, pre-finance support, fertiliser and seeds to enhance their production capacity.
While speaking on post-harvest losses, he said rice mills and domestic markets had been provided for rice farmers. He noted that the firm had expended $120 million on poultry and animal feed mills in Kaduna and Ilorin in 2017.
Said he: “We are determined to make Nigeria the agricultural hub on the continent. We are, therefore, sourcing, procuring, grading, processing and exporting other agricultural products such as cocoa, cashew, sesame and cotton.”
However, he said no fewer than 6,000 farmers in Taraba and Benue states had been fully registered and equipped with farm inputs at a 50-per-cent subsidy by the firm, adding that more than 15,000 farmers in Taraba would cultivate 15,000 hectares of rice farms and produce 15,000 tonnes of paddy for rice mills.
He stated that the company was reviving the ginnery in Zaria to produce about 40,000 tonnes of raw cotton annually, while working to develop ginneries, to revive moribund textile industries in the country.