IN its unrelenting efforts to aid the realisation of self sufficiency target and job creation efforts of government, Olam Nigeria Limited has unveiled plans to increase its stake in the rice industry.
General Manager, Olam Rice, Reji George disclosed that his company has concluded plans to kick-start milling of 200,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice in Doma Council, in Nassarawa, by June 1,2015.
According to the firm, its backward integration plan in the sector is expected to aid local rice production and job creation.
It could be recalled that the firm had earlier this year unveiled its locally produced rice to the Nigerian market.
Olam’s Business Head for Rice, Anil Nair had explained that the launch was designed to meet growing local demands for the commodity as well as reduce its importation.
He explained that the launch of the commodity in Lagos was strategic since the state holds the largest market of consumers of rice.
He said, “There are lots of paddy been produced and Lagos being the biggest market in the country is having local rice coming to it. It is a sign of good things to come and we hope that two years from now, we will be able to bridge the gap. We have a milling capacity of about 800,000 tonnes in the country and we hope to help this country eliminate import completely.
On placing a total ban on the commodity, George said, “I believe it should be a gradual process. Before you ban rice or any agricultural commodity you must have to develop the local strength of rice production. If you plan the ban of importation of rice, companies like Olam is into commercial production of rice with 6,000 hectares in two cities, making it 12,000 hectares that would definitely help bridge the demand and supply gap, and with support from other companies, in addition to the role government is playing.
“In few years time, we would be able to bridge the demand and supply gap and we would be able to be self sufficient in rice production.”
The community leader of a settlement in the Doma area, Kushunta Adi, said, “Before the coming of Olam to our community, most people in this area were idle, which is not good, but today, the story is different. In fact, at that initial time, most of excavators on the project were foreigners, but today, the company has employed many of our youths and this is helping many families here”.
“In fact, what they have done here is enormous. I believe if the Federal Government can copy them, the country would be better. If we have one or two other companies like this in Nigeria, it will be difficult for us as a country to import rice,” he added.
A former Attorney General of the Federation and Secretary of the rice farmers’ association, Michael K. Aondoakaa, in his position urged government to urgently protect the local rice industry from being thrown out of the agriculture sector.
Aondoakaa, at the House of reps hearing, stated worries that corrupt actions by some rice importers could destroy government’s policy and truncate the local rice sub-sector. He disclosed that a certain company behaves like another government and has resorted to dubious activities in apparent bid to frustrate the local rice manufacturers.
He called on all and sundry to stop the untoward activities in the best interest of Nigeria, especially local farmers and others.

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