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.