AFRICANGLOBE – Against the background of Nigeria’s economic vulnerability, President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has stated that the current efforts of the Nigerian Federal Government at diversifying the economy to an agriculture-centered economy remain the viable solution to creating a healthy economy.
Dangote said this during a meeting with some business men from Asia, in Lagos.
He said: “We have invested massively in rice, sugar, dairy products, and tomatoes. Our rice-out grower scheme will produce rice by next year that will reduce our rice import to nearly zero because Nigeria imports more than half of the rice it consumes. We have expanded our sugar operations with our operations in Tonga in Nasarawa in addition to Numan sugar projects where sugarcane is cultivated for raw sugar production that will be refined.
“Some months ago, we laid the foundation for the construction of ultra-modern rice processing integrated plant that will process 16 metric tons of paddy rice in one hour, by the time you multiply this by the number of hours and days it operates, you will understand that this is huge. The interesting thing about investment in agriculture is that apart from food production sufficiency, the job potential is unquantifiable.”
In addition, Dangote said his company was investing massively in agribusiness, promoting industrialization through the backward integration process to ensure Nigeria becomes self-reliant in food production in good time and save it of the much needed foreign exchange hitherto being spent on importation.
His words: “We are producing the raw materials needed in our factories. In the Sugar sector, we developed a sugar backward integration project plan targeted at the production of 1.5MT/PA from various sites across Nigeria, in the next 10 years.
“We have an out-grower scheme, enough paddy rice will be grown and harvested for processing. Some 20,000 out growers expected to produce an average of 180,000 tons of paddy rice. We are presently building rice processing mills in Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Niger States in the first phase.”
Dangote explained further that in the second phase, other mills will be built in Nasarawa, Kogi, and other states, noting that with the six mills, the company will achieve a capacity of seven hundred thousand metric tons per annum of parboiled rice.
He said his Dangote Rice Company will become largest rice producer in Africa, a bold step in making Nigeria self-sufficient in Rice production.
He commended the Federal Government’s economic recovery and growth plan, saying his investments in refinery, petrochemical and fertilizer production are in that direction.
He said that the decision of the Government at diversifying the economy away from oil only to an agriculture centered sector remains the viable solution to myriads of economic conundrum that Nigeria is presently facing
He said the private sector has important roles to play which was why he has taken up the challenge to lead the way as a leading private sector operator and that with government providing the right environment through good policy formulation and implementation; it will be a matter of time before Nigeria would become one of the world’s economic powers.