The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, on Tuesday stated that Nigeria will start to export rice in the next two years.
Nanono disclosed this during a press conference, after a working visit of the Nestle Nigeria PLC office in Lagos.
He noted that the country’s land border closure had resulted in increased outputs by many rice milling plants which were operating below capacities before the closure.
The minister pointed out that with the improved production rate, Nigeria’s rice would soon be exported.
“Before the closure of our land border, most of these milling plants were partially operating, but now, they not only operate in full capacities but are also expanding. If we maintain the momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries.
”I was worried in terms of the production of rice, but what I have found out is that most producers have stocked rice for the next six months.
“This means that before the stock is finished, dry season rice will be harvested, and before that finishes, the rainy season will come back,” the minister said.
Nanono said there had been an expansion of local rice value chain as well as the creation of more jobs due to the increase in rice production.
“We cultivate rice in a nine-month cycle; probably as we move on the cycle will widen, so we do not have a problem with rice processing.
“As at today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day.
“In a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day is going to be opened, with another upcoming 34 smaller mills; then, we have clusters in different areas,” Nanono said.
The Minister lauded Nestle Nigeria PLC for its role in assisting local farmers and creating jobs for Nigerians.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Nigeria PLC, Mr Mauricio Alarcon, thanked the Minister and his delegation for the visit and called for a stronger and robust working relationship with the Ministry. He also said that there were many opportunities for collaboration in Nigeria.
“We source 80 percent of our products locally, we source 100 percent of Maize for Golden Morn locally; soya, millet, sugar, salt and cocoa are locally sourced,”Alarcon said.