Nigeria has reportedly begun importing garri from India into its local markets despite being the world’s largest producer of cassava.
This development has sparked outrage among Nigerians after a lady, Ronke Aderionoye, allegedly spotted a pack of garri imported from India in a Nigeria store, given how surplus garri is in the country.
Last year, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, had announced that more than 35 improved varieties of cassava had been developed and registered in Nigeria, declaring the country the largest producer of cassava in the world with an annual output of 45 million metric tons.
There was a ban on importation of cassava flour in 2012, but it was eventually lifted and a duty fee of 50% imposed on cassava products importation.
This may be attributed to the fact that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is not favourable to manufacturers in Nigeria, who find it difficult to get NAFDAC approval on products while the same agency allegedly accept bribes from foreign manufacturers to import substandard products into the country.
In meantime, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, has said that Nigeria has become the second largest producer of rice in the world.
While speaking on the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the economy, Garba said no country will develop when it imports virtually everything, including tooth pick and tissue paper. In his words;
“All the food we eat in this country was being imported. So, all of the money earned was just going to buy food. But as I speak to you now, Nigeria just achieved the record of the second largest producer of rice in the world.
“The rice revolution just started a year ago. Some of you from Nasarawa know the kind of things going on there. A newspaper did an investigation in Kebbi and they found out that there were 48,000 new millionaires in Kebbi state alone last year for growing rice.”
Shehu stressed that Nigeria’s over reliance on oil has killed the country and cannot be continued. According to him, the diversification of the economy means more money will be in the hands of ordinary Nigerians and there will be widespread prosperity all over the country.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) estimates that rice demand in Nigeria reached 6.3 million metric tons in 2015, with only 2.3 million MT of that demand satisfied by local production. This local production shortfall leaves a gap of 4.0 million MT, which is currently being filled through formal importation of rice, or illegal imports over land borders.
Due to the current economic crisis, domestic prices for agro-commodities have risen dramatically over the last 12 months, making local agriculture an attractive investment.
Dangote Rice Limited, a subsidiary of Dangote Group, seeks to take advantage of this economic trend and the favourable policies laid out in FMARD’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
Consequently, Dangote Rice, has launched the rice out-grower scheme in Sokoto, which currently comprises of plans to build a multi-million naira, 25,000 hectare rice mill in Nigeria by the end of 2017.
President of the Group, Aliko Dangote stated that the project will begin with 500 hectares of farmland by Gonroyo dam. The company plans to operate out-grower schemes in 14 states, with the hopes that it will empower local farmers, create job opportunities for community dwellers and reduce migration to the cities.
At the flag off ceremony, seedlings were given to the primary local farmers, who will in turn plant the seed, then Dangote Rice company will purchase crops from them for milling and final processing.
By year-end 2017, Dangote Rice plans to produce 225,000 MT of parboiled, milled white rice. This will allow it to satisfy four percent of the total market demand within one year. The group’s model can then be successfully scaled to produce 1,000,000 MT of milled rice in order to satisfy 16 percent of the domestic market demand for rice over the next five years.
Dangote Rice will establish raw material reception, drying, hulling, parboiling units and silos in strategic areas throughout the country near our additional outgrower communities. Each site will store dried, hulled, parboiled bran rice. DRL will then transport this bran rice to a mill, where finished rice will be produced.