The President of Dangote Groups of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, says Nigerians consume over 6.5 million tonnes of rice annually, less than half of which is produced locally.
Dangote said that on Wednesday during the inauguration of the Dangote Rice Out Growers Scheme in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto state.
He expressed concern that the deficit arising from importation of rice cost Nigeria over $2bn per annum.
He said, “As agriculture remains an important sector in our economy, we plan to produce 1million tonnes of high quality parboiled rice within the next three years.
“This is by cultivating about 160,000 hectares of irrigable rice farmland in some selected states, thus making the commodity affordable to ordinary Nigerians.
“Moreover, the out growers scheme is committed to creating significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of small holder farmers and ensuring food security in the country.
“This is by providing high quality seeds, fertiliser and agrochemicals, as well as technical assistance on best agricultural practice to farmers.”
The Project Director, Dangote Rice Ltd, Robert Coleman said that the Sokoto operation was a demonstration phase meant to familiarise the farming community with the programme.
He said, “The phase is to familiarise the farming community through the training of extension workers and lead farmers as well as test modern technologies, ‘he said.
“In 2017, they will have 25,000 hectares to be cultivated by nearly 50,000 out growers, in addition to 260 jobs expected to be created by the end of the year.”
Governor Aminu Tambuwal called on the farmers to respect the agreement signed between the state and Dangote group to ensure that, “all products are directed to the real sectors of need.’’
“The coming of Dangote to invest in the state was as a result of the government’s sustained efforts toward inviting prospective investors to the state.”
Earlier, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for diversifying the economy and urged Nigerians to pray for him.