By Adelola Amihere
As plans are into gear to roll out 14 new rice mills in Nigeria in the next few weeks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has disclosed that it will attract N250 billion worth of investments to the rice sub sector.
The Minister disclosed this at the AgroNigeria high-level rice conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said: a�?There are presently 21 large integrated rice mills with a total processing capacity of 1.22 million metric tonnes yearly and spreading across the country, from Kano, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Anambra, Edo, Nasarawa, Benue, Kwara, Jigawa, Niger and Kogi states. The challenges associated with local rice which has discouraged consumers, especially when compared to imported rice has been overcome.
a�?Today, several integrated local rice mills have their milled rice in the Nigerian market and consumer demand and preference for local rice has risen due to better quality and taste compared to imported rice. Home-grown international grade rice can be found across Nigerian markets and a total of 14 mills will soon come on board.a�?
Ogbeh whose speech was read by a director from his agriculture ministry, added: a�?And this is expected to provide additional investment of N250 billion in the rice processing sub-sector. This will also attract a savings of $300 million from import substitution through local processing. The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria has made investments in the excess of N300 billion with upcoming investments expected to hit N250 billion.
a�?RIPAN members currently have a direct workforce of 5,000 skilled Nigerians including women. As off-takers of rice paddy, RIPAN has created jobs for over five million rice farmers out of the existing 11 million rice farmers in Nigeria. The integrated rice mills have also employed about two million unskilled workers. Nigeriaa��s rice import bill has dropped appreciably by over 90 per cent.a�?