Determined to contribute to significant reduction in the number of unemployed Nigerians, Dangote Group, weekend, announced that it was scaling up its investment in agricultural sector.
Agriculture, according to the group, was the only most visible way of addressing the high unemployment rate in the country. Dangote assured that its huge investments in the sector would lead to real growth and development of the country’s economy.
Fielding questions from newsmen on the sideline of the just concluded 2nd edition of the Agribusiness Summit in Abuja Group Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Project and Portfolio Development Mr. Devakumar VG Edwin said the new investments were significant and timely given the current rate of unemployment in the country.
According to him: “agriculture employs 37 percent of the population. This is against the backdrop of 23 percent unemployment rate in the country.”
He said going forward, his company was upping its investment in rice, tomato paste, sugar and dairy products.
He said presently the Pan-African Conglomerate was constructing state of the art storage silos, and as well carrying out parboiling, rice milling, polishing, sorting and parking units for a total capacity of one million tons of paddy.
Mr. Edwin said: “there is an ongoing investment in 15,000 hectares to produce and process tomato paste of 150,000 tons per year. The current import is 0.5million tons per year.”
He said his conglomerate was equally investing in 40,000 hectares to produce sugar, just as he hinted about the ongoing construction of a 3million tons fertilizer plant.
According to him, part of the company’s plans also included investment in dairy products and oil seeds.
With adequate arable land and availability of water, he expressed optimism that Nigeria had all it took to grow the agricultural sector.
Edwin said: “the time is rife to put the agricultural sector in the front burner, more so that Nigeria’s ever growing population is projected to hit 440million by the year 2050.
He said it was in realization of the need to feed Nigerians that the government came out with various agricultural enhancement initiatives which included: Anchor Borrower Scheme, Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, Presidential Economic Diversification Initiative, youth Lab and Food Security council among others.
He said most of its agricultural investments, especially in rice, was based on the out grower scheme, calling on Nigerians to “support the agricultural drive by the Dangote Group which is in line with government policy and the yearnings of the people.”