Tinubu :Nigeria Will Soon Produce Enough Maize, Wheat, Other Food Items And Stop Importation

By Stephen Ubanna

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, appears not ready to follow the footsteps of previous Administrations to invest the country’s lean foreign exchange resources for importation of food items like maize, wheat and other items into the country. This may have been informed by the Administration’s desire to fully develop the Agricultural sector’’ to ensure constant food supply and affordability’’ in the country.

The Nigerian President, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state, the nation’s Commercial centre has every reason to invest in the nation’s Agricultural sector in keeping with his 2023, electioneering Campaign promises to save the nation’s lean foreign exchange resources to meet other competing needs.

 There are indications that former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration had spent close to 10 billion on importation of food items to meet the country’s Agricultural shortfalls like wheat, maize, fish and other consumer –oriented food items from Europe, Asia and the North American country of the United States, US,   including United Kingdom, UK and South Africa and other parts of the world.

The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, under the close watch f Semiu Adeniran,  in  in its report may have made  matters worse when it stated that Nigerian importers spent N6.08 trillion on wheat, maize, and other household items and services   between January and June, 2023. It was not surprising why the Nigerian President  who had given his words last September that his Administration  will create Agricultural hubs  across  all the states of the Federation ‘’ to ensure constant food supply and affordability’’ has pursued it with vigour over the last seven months.

This is evident by the cultivation of  500,000 hectares  of farmlands  across the  country  to grow maize, rice, wheat , millet and other staple  crops which are in high demand in the country.

The decision by the Nigerian President to launch the dry season farming with 120,000 hectares of land in the north western state of Jigawa in November 2023, under the Administration’s National Wheat Development Programme speaks volume.

As a prelude to developing the nation’s Agricultural and industrial sector,  the former Lagos state governor,  may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians in his  January 1, 2024,  broadcast  when  he declared that his Administration  ‘’will fight every obstacle  that impedes business  Competitiveness  in Nigeria’’,  noting that he will not hesitate  ‘’to remove any clog  hindering the present government’s path  to making Nigeria  a destination  for local and foreign investments in the  Agricultural and  industrial sectors of the economy.

Sen. Kyari: Minister of Agriculture &Food Security

 Abubakar Kyari, a one-time Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria and now minister of Agriculture and Food ecurity, may have sent a message to foreign  rice importers  jostling for forex in the Autonomous  Foreign Exchange market , AFEM, to start importation of the food item  again look inwards as there was no basis  for  it any longer.

 The minister may have given a word of encouragement to the foreign rice importers to patronize the rice the local producers. He had said that some of the basic infrastructural facilities to destone the locally produced rice to compete with the Asian countries Thailand, India, United States and Vietnam have been provided by the government with support of the private sector.

The Borno state born minister of Agriculture and Food Security, had cited the completion of the Mabeli rice Mill in Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and a former Nigerian Head of State who later military President of Nigeria   expected to be commissioned soon to commence production ostensibly ‘’ to ensure the country’s food security, self-sufficiency and sustainability’’.

An elated Kyari, had said that President Tbubu’s reason for establishing the Mill was basically ‘’to enhance   processing and destining of the local rice farmers produce to compete with the foreign produced rice. While embarking on a familiarization tour of the Mill recently, he was said to have given kudos to Jamu Adamu Dan’agundi, Managing Director, MV Agro Engineering Limited and his Management Team, Bank of Agriculture and the ministry officials for having the foresight and the initiative to set up the facility which can to produce 200 metric tons of rice per day.

Mabeili Rice mill in Niger state

Appealing to rice farmers in the state and other states of the Federation to start taking advantage of the completed Mabeli Mill to destine and process their rice.  According to a ministry source, Mabeli Mill our facilities which includes the intake section, par-boiling, milling and packaging area as obtained in mills in other parts of the world. It could be ascertained whether this was one of the rice mills owned by the Dngote Group of Indudtries.

This is because , the Group had  signed a $1 billion agreement  with the then President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration  in 2022,  to start the integrated rice  production project  in Kebbi, sokoto,  Zamfara, Kano, Niger  and Jigawa states.

Olam International Limited, a major importer in Nigeria may have set the stage to start a mill in Nigeria with the inauguration of its state – of- the art rice mill at its farm in the north central state of Nasarawa in 2014. The integrated milling facility, situated  at the company’s  16,000 –hectare  greenfield  irrigated and mechanized  paddy farm that was said to have  been  commissioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan, has the capacity to process 36,00 tons of milled rice  yearly which are sold in the Nigerian markets. At present Olam, alone has a total farm and milling facility in Nasarawa state to the tune of over N18 billion.

This was said to have been quickly followed up by the Dangote Group’s inauguration of a rice processing mill in Jigawa state. Aliko Dangote,a multi-billionaire who has investment in virtually every sector of the Nigerian economy including the energy sector ,  had said  that’’the commencement  of the construction  of the integrated  rice processing  plant  was a culmination  of series  of events  which had began with the signing of a working agreement with the government to establish rice farms in Kebbi and five other northern states of the Federation.

Massive Dangote Industries Group , Multi-milion,dollars Rice Mill in Jigawa state

  The Mill, the Kano state born business mogul had said   has the capacity ‘’to process 16 metric tons of paddy rice per hour. He had said that the mill when completed will in a year process paddy rice worth N14 billion bought directly from the farmers in Jigawa state   at the prevailing market rate.

 He is optimistic that if the six multi-billion dollar mills, established across the country  can come  on stream soon,  the Group will achieve  a capacity  to process  700,000 metric tons  of par boiled rice per annum , which will make it  the largest local rice producer in the African Continent  that would compete with the major rice mills in the Asian countries of Thailand, India, Vietnam  and other parts of the world. He noted that it would make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice – production and stop its importation to save the country’s scarce foreign exchange.          

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