by Tunji Andrews
Africa’s richest man and king capitalist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote has pledged to invest $1 billion (N165 billion) in Nigeria’s commercial rice farming; making it the largest single investment ever made in rice production on the continent.
The investment will see the establishment of two modern integrated rice mills. They will both have the capacity to mill 120,000 Metric Tons of rice daily.
Dangote has already bought a total of 150,000 hectares in Edo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, and Niger states – all within Nigeria – for commercial production of rice to support the country’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) launched in 2011. Through the transformation agenda, Nigeria hopes to attain food sufficiency and become a net exporter of rice within the next four years.
It would be recalled that Olam recently commissioned a rice mill in Nassarawa to raise its stakes in rice production to 36,000 metric tonnes per annum.
Dangote’s $1billion investment on rice farming has the capacity to create at least 8,000 new jobs and significantly reduce the price of locally produced rice.
Rice is a major staple for Nigeria’s 170 million people. It is also one of the viable investments in agriculture. As a high yield crop, the return on investment for rice farming is high and it takes just four months to plant and harvest rice.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan commended Dangote’s investment and assured him that his investment in building a strong industrial base in Nigeria is protected as the country is already working out plans to curb the high spate of smuggling.
An electronic surveillance equipment that will depend less on human manipulations and interventions will be installed to check smuggling activities through the country’s borders,” President Jonathan was quoted to have said in a statement released by his special adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati.
Dangote is Africa’s richest man with an estimated fortune of about $25 billion. He holds lucrative interests in diversified business sectors including cement, flour, sugar, and agricultural production across African nations.