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Rice revolution project started by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development drew a great momentum with a production volume of 2.9 million metric tons of rice from last year’s farming season. The stockpile will bring the Nigeria at the exit door from its rice importation soon, said by,Dr. Akinwumi Adesina,the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development while investigating 420-hectare rice farm and mill belonging to Olam Nigeria in Rukubi, near Doma, Nasarawa State.

He said that 2.9 million MT of high quality well milled rice was expected from 2014 farming season. With the annual importation of rice about 1.9 to 2.0 million metric tons, Nigeria will soon be able to stop the rice import.

Dr Adesina said that “We are soon going to become Thailand of Africa in terms of rice production and export”.

He also related the rice production with the creation of job opportunities. Around 670,000 jobs were created in 2013 through rice production.

In 2013, around 1.9 million metric tonnes of rice was produced contributing N320 billion to total GDP of the country with 670,000 jobs created.

Dr Adesina said that the Federal Ministry is putting its effort to make an environment suitable for the rice production on small, medium and large scale through its Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES) for the rice value chain under the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) launched in 2011.

In addition to provide the seeds to the farmers, the federal government is also providing the support to farmners in terms of subsidized inputs and mechanization services through Agricultural Equipment Hiring Service (AEHE) for which financing support is accessible through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Bank of Industry (BOI).

He said that 15 processing zones for rice and other staple foods would be set up at different locations in Nigeria with the contribution of $9.0 billion to the GDP.

The minister, who was visibly impressed with the wide hectarages under cultivation, the growing stockpile of mill-ready paddy rice, mechanized planting and harvesting operations and land preparation for new planting and the installation of the 600 metric ton capacity mill, stated that all the factors favorable for growing and processing large quantities of rice were already in place and effectively working.

Dr. Adesina explained that, prior to the launch of the ATA in 2011, only one integrated rice mill was in place, but that in addition to 12 others, the 60, 000 ton Olam Farm mill expected to begin milling in June brings the number of mills to 13 within three years.

He said the small mills have increased to 4,350 and growing at a yearly rate of 40 per cent.

The minister said paddy bulking and aggregation centres, a bridge between rice farmers and millers, were going to be set up to effectively address the problems of stock supply security identified by investors in a commissioned study as a concern along with poor infrastructure and access to credit.

The paddy bulking and aggregation centres will stock, assess and grade paddy sourced from growers with a view to creating easy access to millers that might have neither farms nor paddy supply from farmers.

These facilities, Adesina said, would bolster Nigeria’s rice production capacity along with 15 rice and other staple crop processing zone (SCPZ) to be set up at locations in the country, with a projected contribution of adding $9.0 billion to the GDP.

Briefing the minister and his entourage, as well as reporters who visited the Olam Farm for progress assessment, the country head of the farm, Mukul Mathur, and the Rukubi Farm Manager, Regi George, stated that Olam Farm is a subsidiary of Kewalrams Group, which has been in Nigeria for 150 years and in different sectors of agriculture for 25 years.

He said the company’s foray into rice farming began four years ago, with the Rukubi rice farm and mill being its biggest commitment with $72 million.