Nigeria may begin to export rice in two years, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has said.
The minister said this during a press conference after a visit by Nestle Nigeria, in Lagos, on Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.
“With the improved production rate, Nigerian rice will soon be exported. Before the closure of our land border, most of these rice milling plants were partially operating, but now, they not only operate in full capacities but are also expanding,” the statement said.
“If we maintain the momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries,” he added.
Mr Nanono said the country’s land border closure had resulted in increased output by many rice milling plants which were operating below capacities before the closure.
Nigeria’s border closure has reduced foreign rice prevalence in the Nigerian markets, and the government’s Anchor Borrowers Program, amidst numerous challenges, has contributed to local rice production.
The programme, among other things, is expected to increase banks’ financing to the agriculture sector and to create a new generation of farmers as well as to boost employment.
“I was worried in terms of the production of rice, but what I have found out is that most rice producers have stocked rice for the next six months,” the minister said.
He emphasised that before the stored quantity is finished, dry season rice will be harvested, and before that finishes, the rainy season will come back.
He stressed that it is only in three months, November to January, that rice is not being grown in the country.
“We cultivate rice in a nine- month cycle. Probably as we move on, the cycle will widen, so we do not have a problem with rice processing,” he said.
Also, he said that there had been expansion of local rice Value Chain as well as the creation of more jobs, due to increase in rice production.
“As at today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day,” the statement highlighted.
It also revealed that in a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice each day is going to be opened, 34 smaller mills and then clusters, will be established in different areas.
He added that local rice farmers were fully engaged and used between 200 and 300 farm lands directly.
The minister lauded Nestle Nigeria PLC for its role in assisting local farmers and creating jobs for Nigerians.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Nigeria PLC, Mauricio Alarcon, said there are many opportunities for collaboration in Nigeria.
“We source 80 per cent of our products locally. We source 100 per cent of Maize for Golden Morn, locally. Soya,millet, sugar, salt and cocoa are locally- sourced.”