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Jonathan Hails Large Scale Rice Farming; Predicts Good Revenues from Mass Production

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

By Tajudeen Balogun

The desire and goal to make Nigeria a net exporter of rice will be actualized if large commercial farms capable of complementing the small scale farmers are encouraged and motivated.

Large mechanized rice farms like new OLAM’s 6,000-hectare farm, it has been proffered as an adequate measure for boosting food production and provision of significant jobs opportunities in rural areas, provided the nation’s youths were supported to go into mechanized farming and to pursue agriculture as a venture.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

These were parts of President Goodluck Jonathan’s submissions Monday during the Commissioning Ceremony of OLAM Nigeria’s 105,000 Metric Tonnes Integrated Rice Processing Mill, in Nasarawa State.

The President, who cited huge rate of rice importation into the country, pointed out that he was pleased to see that OLAM’s rice farm involved the rural communities, especially women and youths. He noted that as large commercial farms were encouraged, the government was expected to simultaneously ensure that their development empowers subject communities and protects their land rights, while boosting their “shared participation in wealth creation”, within the communities.

President Jonathan advocated that the country must not be complacent with only farming, rather, “progressively add value to all our agricultural produce, build agricultural value chains, from the farm to the table”, revealing that the current and planned investment of over $100 million by OLAM, was a very good pacesetter, regarding how to build integrated rice value chains, combining commercial rice farms, out-grower schemes of small farmers and modern rice mills.

More of such rice business investments, the President promised would be promoted in the country with the various incentives under the new rice policy.

Given the pace and rapid results being achieved under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, President Jonathan expressed hope that Nigerian rice would soon go beyond the country’s shores, be traded and enjoyed internationally.

As a way to record more success to achieve the target in the large scale rice farming, the President proposed a collaboration between the Federal and State Governments, in national development and implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda. He commended the governor and people of Nasarawa state for supporting and promoting OLAM.

Similarly, the President hinted that the Federal Government has launched the Staple Crop Processing Zones, to address the infrastructure constraints faced by agricultural businesses and to encourage them to go deeper “into our rural areas, in order to process and add value to our agricultural produce, adding that the zones would be upgraded with improved infrastructure, such as roads, power, water and gas supply, to reduce the investment cost in these rural areas.

In   the main time, President Jonathan has directed Ministries of Agriculture, Works, Power and Water Resources to work with OLAM to facilitate infrastructure support systems around its zone and other Staple Crop Processing Zones.



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