Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, could be the world’s biggest rice exporter in the next five years. This is according to the head of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina.
Akinwumi was Nigeria’s Agriculture minister when Dangote was the largest importer of rice into Africa’s most populous nation.
He recounted how the billionaire businessman once walked into his office and resolved to switch from import to home-based production and processing of rice few years ago.
In the next three years we want to produce one million tons of quality rice and make it available and affordable to the people. We hope to do 150,000 hectares and when we are done, Nigeria will not have anything to do with importation of rice.
Dangote recently entered an agreement with Sokoto State government to support the efforts of rice growers in the north-western part of the country.
He is on record to have said his investments into the rice sector was largely due to the the genuine interest of the Federal government to revive agriculture as the mainstay of the economy, and reduce importation of foods that could be produced locally.
“If they (government) continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years. The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business…agriculture pays,” Adesina said during a Mo Ibrahim forum recently held in Morocco.
Nigeria – one of the biggest economies on the continent – consumes 6.5 million tonnes of rice which costs the nation over 2 billion dollars annually.
Dangote said, “In the next three years we want to produce one million tons of quality rice and make it available and affordable to the people. We hope to do 150,000 hectares and when we are done, Nigeria will not have anything to do with importation of rice.
“This Scheme will help to diversify the economy, alleviate poverty and reduce the nation’s import bill. The scheme has been designed as a one stop solution for the rice value chain,” Dangote stated.
The Dangote Rice outgrowers scheme is set to create significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of smallholders farmers. It will eventually ensure food security by providing high quality seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals as well as technical assistance to farmers.