Dangote Group – As the government turns attention to agriculture to ease the pressure on the economy and create jobs, Dangote Group at the weekend launched 8000 hectares of Rice Outgrowers Scheme in Jigawa state as part of its partnership with governments at all levels to reduce food imports.
The launch of the Scheme marked with the distribution of rice seedlings to the benefitting farmers is with potential to provide direct jobs for 5000 farmers and another 5000 indirect jobs for various scheme dependants.
The rice project being executed by Dangote Rice Limited and expected to be replicated in six other states of the federation is a fallout of memorandum of understanding signed between Dangote and the Federal government on one hand and the Jigawa state government on another.
The president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote explained that Nigeria depended on agriculture for economic development before the discovery of oil noting that oil was meant to complement agriculture but sadly the nation abandoned it and concentrated on oil.
“Before the discovery of oil, our economic was built around potentials from our palm oil, groundnut, cotton, and rubber plantations. Now the price of oil has plummeted from a peak of $116 per barrel in June 2014 to as low as $29 per barrel in January 2016, this means there is huge loss of revenue to the government,” he lamented.
According to Dangote, Nigerian agricultural commodities and food imports bills has averaged over N1 trillion in the past two years, with foods like sugar, wheat, rice, fish accounting for 93 per cent of the total,cost of imports, a situation he described as unacceptable for any one who loves the country.
Dangote disclosed that the Dangote Rice Outgrowers Scheme has been designed as a one stop solution for the rice value chain.
“Farmers will be provided with training, necessary inputs with guaranteed buy back agreed price, will improve yield, production and income for the farmers,” he said.
Commenting on the project, Minister of state for Agriculture, Senator Heneiken Lokpobiri lauded Dangote for his intervention in the government efforts at providing food security for the citizenry, creating jobs and reducing dependency on food importation.
He expressed government readiness to provide all the needed support to make the Dangote Rice Outgrowers Scheme a success saying government not afford not to support.
According to him, a whooping sum of $20 billion is spent on importation of food items that could be produced locally.
The minister noted that the government is putting in place a strategy that will make farmers have greater access to farm implements to help them produce with ease.