The Federal Government disclosed that rice production has attracted $1.6bn (N256bn) worth of investments in the last three years.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development reported during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank of Industry to build rice and cassava mills across the country.
According to him, they have been able to attract $1.6bn of investment into rice production within three years. The largest one being Aliko Dangote that has put up in $1bn into commercial rice production and also commercial rice milling.
He believes that within three years, Nigeria will be into rice exportation just like Thailand and India, and that is exactly the way it should be. However, they observe that as they have been producing a lot of rice, there is shortage of mills to process the rice also the country lacked integrated rice mills to process the locally produced rice to global standards.
He said it was important for Nigeria to seal the milling gap, and to achieve this, the country had to build integrated rice mills noting that the MoU was to facilitate the building of 10 rice mills and six cassava processing mills.
The minister disclosed that the 10 integrated rice mills will each have the capacity of 36,000 metric tonnes, making a total of 360,000 metric tonnes. So, it is a huge investment. The rice mills are going to be located in Kebbi, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Zamfara, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Banue, Ogun and Anambra states.
Government is not taking part in the venture. The role of the government is to facilitate access to finance for private sector investors to invest in these mills and run them as private sector-driven operation, he said.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive, BoI, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, believes that by the time the companies are operational, the amount of rice being imported will be significantly reduced if not completely eliminated and that MoU will address the modalities to ensure that the 16 companies materialise in the next few months.