The Federal government through the Ministry of Agriculture has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two companies, MV Agro Engineers Nigeria and MV Agro Engineers PVT Limited, India in order to achieve self-sufficiency and boost rice production.
The companies will be supplying the Ministry of Agriculture with 10 integrated large-scale processing plants.
According to the minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, the rice mills will be delivered in the next 18 months and deliver to farmers nationwide on loan.
Speaking with journalists at the MoU signing ceremony, the minister said the government would advertise the mills to be procured by interested Nigerians who have the capacity make 10 percent down payment for the mills.
He said, “It will be advertised, those who want to obtain it from the states will identify, they will come and how they can obtain it, and they have the capacity to pay 10 per cent down payment and they have the technical capacity to own a pond operate a mill, then we will give them, they will install the mill, then the Bank of Agriculture will take over the repayment of the loan over a period of 10 years”.
Speaking further, Ogbe revealed almost all states of the federation have their own rice mills but the rate of production is very slow.
“There are about 16 large existing rice mills that mill about 100 tons per day, some mill about 300 tons per day, Dangote just brought in 10 rice mills which will produce 1 million tons of rice per annum.
“But there are smaller ones we gave out, about 200 mills of 10 tons and 20 tons per day, operating in the villages, we are buying more and giving out because the smaller mills seem to produce more rice than the big mills added up, but they are scattered all over the country.
“Virtually all the states have the smaller mills, but the efficiency of those mills are very slow, they are not efficient enough, they don’t de-stone the rice, so that makes it difficult to eat their rice, so we are equipping them with de-stoners, eventually with polishers and color sorters to pick out black spots in rice.
The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring the country achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
“This is the time for the youths, they have ideas, they have ambitions but the issue of access to credit has blocked their ways and they can’t be any success of their lives and unless the government leads the way through these programs, we are walking into a future if increasing anger and frustration among young people especially.
“We are insistent in achieving self-sufficiency in rice production because we simply can’t afford to spend over $5 million a day importing rice, we don’t have the money.
And I don’t think any country can afford that line of expenditure and hope to survive.
“We have a huge population that has no work to do, today, over 13 million Nigerians are on the farm growing rice and that number can increase to 20 million in a short time frame, so we have to produce our rice, eventually our sugar, beans, Maize, chicken, beef”, Ogbeh concluded.