Okwe Obi, Abuja

The Federal Government says that Nigeria would commence exportation of locally produced rice in the next two years.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono made the declaration at a press conference after a working visit of the Nestle Nigeria office in Lagos.

Nanono noted that the developement was necessitated by the closure of the country’s land borders, a measure which has resulted in increased outputs by many domestic rice mills which were operating below capacity before the closure.

In a statement released by the Ministry, the Minister pointed out that with the improved production rate, Nigeria rice will soon be exporting rice.

“Before the closure of our land border, most of these rice milling plants were partially operating; but now, they not only operate in full capacity but are also expanding. And if we maintain the momentum, in the next two years we may export rice to other countries.”

He disclosed that: “I was worried in terms of the production of rice, but what I have found out is that most rice producers have stocked rice for the next six months. This means that before the stock is finished, dry season rice will be harvested, and before that finishes, rainy season will come back.”

He stressed that only in three months, rice is not being grown in our country, saying, “we cultivate rice in a nine-month cycle; probably as we move on the cycle will widen. So we do not have a problem with rice processing.

He added that there has been expansion of the local rice value chain as well as the creation of more jobs due to an increase in rice production.

“As at today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day. In a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day is going to be opened, with another upcoming 34 smaller mills; then, we have clusters in different areas.”

Earlier, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nestle Nigeria, Mauricio Alarcon, thanked the Minister and his delegation for the visit and called for stronger and robust working relationship with the Ministry.

Alarcon revealed that, “we source 80% of our products locally, we source 100% of maize for Golden Morn locally; soya, millet, sugar, salt and cocoa are locally- sourced.”