Leading Agri-business firm, Olam Nigeria Limited has set up a multi-million dollar integrated rice mill in Nasarawa State, North-central Nigeria, fitted with the capacity to produce 36,000 metric tonnes of milled rice per annum.
Olam’s Managing Director for Africa and Middle East, Venkataramani Srivathsan, who welcomed Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan for the commissioning of the facility, said 3,000 hectares of land is already under cultivation on the 6,000 hectares of mechanised paddy farm where the rice mill is located.
Srivathsan said Olam plans to increase acreage in Nasarawa to 10,000 hectares. “This will bring Olam’s total investment in the integrated farm and milling facility to over N18 billion ($111 million),” he said.
Jonathan in his address said rice production was scaling up in the country as evident in the increase in the number of integrated rice mills from one to 18 in the past three years.
“I look forward to the day when Nigeria rice will go beyond our shores and traded internationally,” the president said, adding that with the growth achieved thus far, it is a possible feat for the country to achieve.
The president noted therefore that the country’s dream of becoming a net exporter of rice will be fast-tracked by encouraging large commercial farms as a way of complementing small-scale farmers.
Jonathan promised to always support public-private partnership aimed at developing the country’s agricultural sector as part of effort to help the country achieve its developmental goals.
Olam Nigeria Country Head, Mukul Mathur expressed the company’s pride to have been part of Nigeria’s development of its export chains, noting that the Singapore-headquartered firm was the first to export sesame from Nigeria.
“…we hope that the success of our rice model will kick-start domestic production in a similar manner, unlocking the opportunity for businesses and smallholders alike, and reducing Nigeria’s need to import 1.9 million tonnes of rice each year,” said Mathur.
A statement by Olam described the company as being the largest non-oil exporter in the country for the last 10 years, a feat that has won it several awards both locally and internationally.
Srivathsan also noted that the mill demonstrates how large-scale commercial farms can work hand in hand with smallholders to help advance Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, generating rural prosperity through local processing.
The company which started in Nigeria 25 years ago employs more than 2,500 direct workers and over 6,000 workers on contract. (VENTURES AFRICA)