Following the visit to China by top government official under the leadership of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, recently, the Federal government has sealed a deal to set up 100 rice mills across the country.
The Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adeshina, who was part of the delegation made the announcement Wednesday in Abuja after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the state house.
Mr. Adeshina said the decision was part of the Federal Government’s fiscal policy of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production by 2015.
He also said an agreement was reached with the Chinese government and other investors on accessing “low interest, highly concessionary long term financing to acquire the mills which would also be private sector driven”.
“Those mills will mill 2.1 million metric tonnes of rice Thai grade quality. The problem with the local rice is that in most cases there are issues of stones and broken rice,” Mr. Adeshina said
Speaking further, the minister said the initiative will allow Nigerians for the first time in history to have the full milling capacity for all the rice they import.
‘We believe that in the next 12 to 18 months, you all will be able to go out, you will see the rice mills. You will see farmers organised into groups. This will generate millions of jobs for Nigerians and Nigeria will be able to basically end these menace that we have of continuously being dependent on imported rice,” Mr. Adeshina said.
The Minister also said rice consumption is expected to rise from its present 5 million metric tons to at least 35 million metric tons by 2050 with increased population.
Consequently, the minister said, Nigeria has adopted the Chinese hybrid rice for large scale production of the staple food in the country.
“China has what is called high breed rice which gives yield of 12 tons per hectare. The Chinese have in fact found a way doubling it in a year and gets up to 24 tons per hectare. “If we can get this hybrid rice in Nigeria to work for us at such scale, we will be there. We will assure the food security not just of today but for the future.
“We are already testing the high breed rice in Kebbi State and we are getting 8 tons per hectare and we are still going to test it across the entire country,” he said.
Nigeria currently imports 2.1 million metric tons of milled rice. The mills are expected to come up in the next 12 to 18 months.
The minister also briefed the media on the government’s programme of large scale production of cassava flour and said 18 large scales high quality cassava processing plants that will process 1.3 million metric tons of high quality cassava flour will be set up in the country.
He said that if achieved, Nigeria which at the moment is the largest producer of cassava in the world, will automatically become the largest processor of high quality cassava flower in the across the globe.