The Federal Government has signed an agreement with an Indian company to procure and supply 10 large scale rice mills worth N10.7 billion before the end of this year.
Signing the agreement in Abuja , Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the move was to ensure the country met its target of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
Ogbeh said the mills to be built by MV Agro-Engineers Ltd., would assist in rice processing and match the growing number of rice farmers in the country.
According to him, over 13 million Nigerians are in various farms across the country growing rice and the number could increase to 20 million persons shortly.
The minister said that the mills would be given to off-takers (millers) and the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) would take over the repayment of the loans over a period of 10 years.
He urged the company to give the country good technology and supply adequate spare parts for the mills.
“We are insistent on achieving self-sufficiency in rice production because we can’t afford over five billion dollars a day of importing rice, we don’t have the money and I don’t think any country can afford that line of expenditure.
“We have to produce our food, we will not depend on imports to produce our food, we cannot survive on a diet of import of everything and we have the land.
“This formula of partnerships is working for us and we want to thank you for being part of it. We will continue with it because whatever subsidy we give or support is in long term bigger profit than anything we will make in cash.
“We thank you for giving us at good price and we know you can make good and the best machines for us because if you do well now, you will do more in the future,’’ .
The Director, Agribusiness and Marketing in the ministry, Alhaji Muyiwa Azeez, said the rice mills would be made available to off-takers in 10 states.
“The ministry has worked hard with the company and other stakeholders to review the delivery process of the mills before December, 2019,’’.
The Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed, said the partnership was geared toward ensuring food security in the country.
Mohammed said the Bank had many programmes aimed at supporting youths and women in agriculture.
The Managing Director of the Indian company, Jamu Babba-Dan’agundi, assured of the company’s commitment to deliver the mills promptly.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in April approved N10.7 billion for the establishment of the 10 rice mills.
The minister for state agriculture Heineken Lokpobiri briefed journalists at the end of the FEC meeting saying that the 10 mills had the capacity to produce 100 tonnes of rice per day and would be managed by private rice millers.
The minister listed the benefitting states to include Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Anambra, Kaduna, Ogun, Niger and Bauchi.