Former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and current president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina revealed what happened on his happiest day in office as Minister of the federal Republic of Nigeria.
Speaking at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco recently, he recalled, saying “I remember when I was minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Aliko Dangote was there, and he was our biggest importer at the time, and he and I used to have all the time to dialogue”.
“One day, I was in my office, about 10 O’clock, Aliko walks in, Ngozi was minister of finance. Aliko bangs on my door and said ‘minister I came to see you’, and I said ‘what are we going to disagree on this time?’
“He said no, I have actually looked at the policies, and the policies you put in place for import substitution are very right policies. So, I have changed my business model from being an importer to being a local producer.”
“I said what exactly are you going to do?. He said I will put in $300 million into producing and processing rice in Nigeria. I said yippee! I went home, I told my wife, my best day as minister,” he said.
Continuing, AfDB chief added that “He came back three months after that, he says I have changed my mind, I said ‘what in the world happened?’ He said no, I have changed my mind from $300 million to a billion dollars.
“If they continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years. The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business…agriculture pays.”
Business Hilights recalls that a tripartite agreement put together by the Dangote Rice limited to create jobs for 16,000 outgrower rice farmers in Sokoto was recently signed with the Sokoto State government and rice growers in the country after which he launched the rice outgrowers scheme in Sokoto.
Responding, President of Dangote Group, and Chairman of Dangote Rice Limited, Aliko Dangote, said he was moved to go into rice cultivation because of the genuine interest of the Federal government to revive agriculture as the mainstay of the economy.