…Targets 1mmt of rice in 2018
Leading industrialist, Aliko Dangote has energized a value chain that will fast forward Nigeria’s quest for backward integration in rice production.
This stemmed from the a new Youth Farming Initiative (YFI) powered by Dangote Rice Limited (DRL) in Kogi State that will engage teeming unemployed Nigerian graduates in rice farming.
Besides, the company is working on a calculation that will saturate the market with One million metric tons of Dangote rice in 2018.
Business Hilights recalls that the Dangote Youth Rice Farm scheme, an out-growers’ initiative was flagged off at the Lower Niger River Basin Authority, Kampe, Ejiba in Yagba West local government area of the state.
Participating graduate youths have already begun on rice cultivation on over 100 hectares of land in the state.
The rice farm project, which was preceded by a special training for the youth farmers on the dynamics of the rice farming, will see the youths cultivating the rice paddy on a 100 hectares of land, which will then be bought over by the company for processing.
According to the plan under the scheme, DRL will provide seedling, anti-pest-chemicals, and fertilizers while the Basing Authority will provide land for the young farmers.
Dangote Group management team led by the Group Executive Director, Mr. Devakumar Edwin flagged off the project while taking delivery of some rice paddy bags produced from the pilot project.
In his remarks, he explained that the project is a new dimension to the efforts by the pan-African conglomerate, the Dangote Group, at ensuring food security and creating job opportunities in Nigeria especially for the youths.
He said the Initiative is in line with the vision and commitment of Dangote Industries Limited to create new generation of agri-preneur that will revolutionize the Nigerian agricultural sector.
According to him, “We believe skill, knowledge, enabling environment, collaboration and linkages along the value chain are driving forces for economic empowerment and social development in line with the Federal Government policies. This project will address the skills gap in local rice production among unemployed youths by providing technical, organisational and financial requirements.”
Continuing, Edwin noted that the scheme would further enhance domestic rice production to cover the large gap between demand and domestic production, boost self-sufficiency of Nigeria and substitute imported rice by quality Nigerian rice brands which means completion of backward integration.
He averred that most modern rice mills in Nigeria presently operate at not more than 20% capacity utilization due mainly to lack of good quality paddy, revealing that Dangote Rice is working to change the narrative by developing and adapting out-grower schemes.
Edwards further revealed that the decision of the management to start the project was driven by two factors, one of which is the need for youth employment through empowerment to go into agriculture. “The youths are more vulnerable to crimes and other social vices when they have nothing to engage them and this in turn affect the nation negatively.
“The second factor is the need to strengthen the on-going efforts at producing rice for self-sufficiency so that we can save foreign exchange. By the time we will be doing one million metric tons of rice next year, no less than three million jobs would been created along the value chain.”
He added that the Kogi Pilot Scheme will cover four seasons of two years and will be launched in four other states soon.
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of DRL, Mr. Robert Coleman urged the youth farmers to concentrate on the project and pay attention to details so that they would come out with good paddy yield.
He congratulated the farmers for the decision to partner with Dangote Rice noting that they have a solid source of livelihood for themselves and members of their families if they give their all for the success of the scheme.
Responding, the Coordinator of the graduate youth farmers, Umar Etudaye thanked the management of Dangote Rice Limited for believing in them and engaging them for the project, promising that they would deliver on the mandate given to them on the project.