If you are looking to invest in Nigeria, the largest Economy in Africa, you should consider rice farming which is the most profitable in the Agriculture sector, the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, said on Friday.
In an interview centred on food security and the reforms in the Agriculture sector, Dr Adesina said that the agriculture policy of the government had opened up the sector for more investments to thrive.
He said that the government had made necessary contributions in terms of high yield seedlings for small, medium and large scale farmers.
He listed different chains in the agriculture sector that the government’s transformation agenda was focusing on, emphasising that ‘rice is the most profitable’.
The agenda is aimed at shifting the mainstay of the Nigerian economy from crude oil to agriculture.
“If you invested 14 million dollars in an integrated rice mill in Nigeria today, the internal rate of return on the investment is 42 to 50 per cent and the time it takes you to pay back the investment is exactly two years. It is the most profitable thing that anyone can be doing in Nigeria today.
“That is because the population is rising and people are consuming more rice.
“If we folded our hands in Nigeria today and keep importing rice from India Thailand, by 2050, we will be spending 35 billion dollars importing rice from them.
“We have started distributing this rice variety and when we started, we started with roughly about 406,000 farmers in 2012 then we moved to 2.6 million farmers in 2013. In 2014, we have added another three million farmers growing this rice.
“Fifty per cent of the farmers that are growing rice in the wet season have shifted to this variety of rice that could be planted in dry season. We can now produce in the wet season and in the dry season,” he said.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, had said he would be investing a billion dollars in commercial rice milling.
Other big names in Nigeria are also coming into the sector with huge funds, evidencing the viability of the sector.
Thai For Rice In Africa
The Minister said that with the policy that President Goodluck Jonathan had put in place, more investments were expected to come in.
“Nigeria Agriculture has changed and that is why the big names are coming in. They realised that it is a big money making enterprise. There is a role for everybody, the small the medium and the large.
“Aliko Dangote said by God’s grace we will become the Thai for rice in Africa and that is what a good policy does.
“I think that what the president has done is extremely good. He has set very good policies and we are beginning to see the rewards of that.
“In Rice today in Nigeria we have a total of 1.6 billion dollars of private sector investment going there.
“I feel the momentum is there and we will achieve it. I believe that in three to four years Nigeria will, by the grace of God, become just like Thailand for rice in Africa,” Dr Adesina said, expressing optimism that rice production would continue to increase.
Over the years, the amount spent on importation of rice from India and Thailand has been on the increase and the government is looking to reduce this in the next few years.
“It is a shameful thing that Nigeria will continue to import rice when it has the resources to export.
“We could not continue the import demand that we were having. It is affecting the Naira, We are spending so much money defending the Naira and we are exporting our jobs if we continue to import,” he stressed.
Despite the increase in the production of rice, there is still a shortfall of supply, as rice is a staple food that most Nigerians eat.
To shore-up supply, Dr Adesina stressed the need for more awareness to be created to get consumers realise that the “Nigerian rice is great and better than what they have.
“The next thing would be to continue to produce so that they can have regularity of supply to patronise the Nigerian rice.
“Nigerian rice is cheaper than the imported rice. An analysis of the market showed that the weighted price of the local rice is cheaper than the imported rice,” he said.
Since the government policy on rice importation was put in place, Rice smugglers have continued to bring in foreign products.
Mr Adeshina, however, urged security agencies manning Nigeria’s borders to increase surveillance and check smuggling activities.
“We have to deal with the issue of smuggling. We cannot have a situation where people defile our borders and come in with items they like. People don’t carry them on their heads. They go around in trailers and those that have to do their job must do their job,” he said.
Cocoa Farming Gaining Attention
Nigeria used to be a major cocoa exporter, but the discovery of crude oil led to dearth in the production. But as the government is looking to diversify the economy, cocoa farming is gaining gradual attention, with production increasing.
To encourage cocoa farmers in Nigeria the government had started giving away high yields and high breeds of cocoa that give five times the yield that farmers are currently getting.
Over one million farmers all across the cocoa growing states in Nigeria have received seedlings and that translates into roughly 39 million seedlings that have been given away for free. This will allow for the cultivation of 40,000 hectares of new cocoa plantations that will increase production from 350 thousand metric tonnes to 800 thousand metric tonnes in the next two years.
The Minister said that Nigeria was getting close to Cote d’Ivorie Coast and other cocoa producing countries, insisting that Ivory Coast will not beat Nigeria in cocoa.
“We are doing the same thing also for oil palm and we have given away nine million sprouted nuts of oil palm free of charge to farmers.
“We are replacing the tall palm trees variety with short once. Because nobody can export a tree, we are investing in planting them so that it will be producing fruits in the next 30 years.
“We must be looking at our ports’ use which should not only be for imports but for exports also. Our rice today in terms of total value added to our local economy in terms of gross value across all the states is 750 billion Naira since we started in 2012.”