Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan, commissioned the Africa’s largest and of course state-of-the-art Rice Mill owned by Olam International Limited in Nasarawa State. This investment in Nigeria’s Agriculture by Olam has significantly contributed to the achievement of Government Agricultural Transformation Agenda and Rice policy, indeed, this will drastically reduce Nigeria dependence on foreign rice and ultimately make Nigeria net exporter of rice.
Olam International Limited is a leading agribusiness operating across the value chain in 65 countries.  The integrated rice milling facility is situated at the heart of Olam’s 6,000-hectare greenfield irrigated and mechanised paddy farm, and will provide 36,000 metric tonnes (MT) of milled rice  per  annum  to  the  domestic  market,  contributing  to  the  Federal  Government’s  goal  to improve  rice  self-sufficiency. With  3,000  hectares  already  under  cultivation  and  a  further 3,000  hectares  to  be  developed  in  2015,  the  farm  is  expected  to  harvest  two  crops  per annum  with  four varieties of high-yield rice  developed  in  partnership  with the West African Rice Development Association.
Together  the  farm  and  the  mill  are  expected  to  boost  smallholder  rice  production  in  the region  through  a  ‘nucleus  and  outgrower  farming  model’. Surrounding  rice-growing communities  are  supported  by  Olam  with  training,  pre-finance,  agri-inputs  and  marketing linkages in order to improve their paddy yields and realisations, which are then purchased by Olam at a fair market price. Currently 3,000 farmers are engaged in the programme, with a target of 16,000 by 2018. Ultimately, 20,000 smallholder farmers will supply 30-40% of the mill’s capacity.  The  commercial  farm  itself  employs  up  to  1,000  workers  depending  on seasonality, providing another source of training in Good Agricultural Practices  (GAP). The model  was  highlighted  as  a  catalytic  innovation  in  African  agriculture  by  the  Rockefeller Foundation in 2013.
Venkataramani  Srivathsan,  Olam’s  Managing  Director  for  Africa  and  Middle  East, commented:  “This  mill,  commissioned  today  by  President  Goodluck  Ebele  Jonathan,characterises three  important  aspects  of  Olam’s  commitment  to  the  agricultural  sector  in Nigeria. Firstly, it demonstrates how large-scale corporate farms can work hand in hand with smallholders  to  help  advance  Nigeria’s  Agricultural  Transformation  Agenda  and  generate rural prosperity through local processing. Secondly, it underlines the country’s ability to grow high  quality,  nutritious  rice  that  can  enhance  domestic  food  security  by  providing  an alternative to imports. Thirdly, as Olam kicks off its 25thanniversary celebrations this month, this investment is a testament to our ongoing commitment to  Nigeria,  the  country  where Olam was founded.”
“Our  goal  of  making  Nigeria  a  net  exporter  of  rice  will  be achieved faster by encouraging large commercial farms that will complement our small-scale farmers.  Large mechanised rice farms like Olam’s 6,000-hectare farm will not only boost food production but also provide significant opportunities for jobs in rural areas. These mills are producing high quality local rice that meets international standards and competes well with imported rice.” President GoodLuck.
“Nigeria is driving a rice policy that will turn it away from being a rice importing country to a major rice exporter. The investment by Olam in a commercial rice farm and integrated rice mill will help boost domestic production and milling of international quality grade rice in Nigeria. This is a clear demonstration that our approach of taking agriculture as a business, while enabling the private sector to drive growth of the agriculture sector, is working.” Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture
“In 25 years, Olam is proud to have been a part of Nigeria’s development of strong export supply chains for world markets.
“Olam was one of the first to export sesame from Nigeria – and now Nigeria is one of the world’s biggest suppliers. Today, we hope that the success of our rice model will kick-start domestic  production in a similar manner, unlocking the opportunity for businesses and smallholders alike,  and reducing Nigeria’s need to import 1.9 million tonnes of rice each year.” Olam Nigeria Country Head, Mukul Mathur,
Olam Nigeria employs over 2,500 direct employees, 6,000 contract workers and sources from over 500,000 Nigerian rice, cocoa, cashew, sesame and cotton farmers. Olam’s businesses range from wheat milling to manufacturing and distribution of tomato paste and dairy drinks amongst others.

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