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President/CEO, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has engaged the services of a Brazilian agricultural expert to change the fortunes of Nigeria from being an importer to a major producer and exporter of rice in no distant future.

The Group in a statement said that aside the out growers’ aspect of the investment, Dangote Rice is planning to plant approximately 150,000 hectares of long grain white rice and produce near one million tons of high quality par boiled white rice for sale into the Nigerian market.

“Our internal policy within Dangote Rice Ltd is to procure 30 percent of our rice production from local farmers who will be developed into out grower groups. These out growers will be simultaneously developed alongside our commercial farming operations,”

The multinational company said that Mr. Lulu Carlos, from Brazil, has already started work in the country as Special Adviser to Alhaji Aliko Dangote on Rice and Coordinator of Dangote Rice Farm Ltd’s out growers’ scheme.

The pilot test is being conducted by the company in Jigawa state.

The company has provided small hold farmers in the Hago-Fadama, Kafin Hausa and Auyo communities with quality inputs like certified seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, petrol, diesel, improved agricultural practices and technology to increase yield and produce quality rice paddy which would also be bought back from them by Dangote Rice Limited.

This is what Carlos has to say;

“We are happy to start the first phase of the out growers bloc of 200 hectares, shared among 8 communities. I’ve seen the same project born in my country, Brazil, whereby from 2.5metric tons in the beginning to today where we reached 9 tons of paddy rice per hectare in productivity.

“This has transformed my country (Brazil) from a net importer of Rice in the year 2000 to a net exporter in the year of 2009. This was achieved through a big out grower scheme in the rice region, which today involves thousands of independent farmers responsible for 80 percent of the 12 million tons locally produced rice and a small number of large Commercial farms supplying the remaining 20 percent,” he said.

Alhaji Aliko has instructed me to conduct the project here for at least 30 percent from out growers and 70 percent from our commercial farm to be established in the state. But this is not our limit. We are convinced that this equation will have more and more out growers’ participation in the future, due to very good and welcome response we are getting from all the communities we are dealing with.

“We are bringing to the people top quality seeds, fertilizers and chemicals as well the training and teaching the best and most modern agricultural practices, to enable you to boost your productivity and quality of your rice. We are also committed to roll out the scheme to cover another 1,000 hectares for the coming rainy season in June / July, using the experience of this first plot to guide our progress.”

It may interest you to note that with the introduction of this model, Brazil changed from being an importer of rice in the year 2000, to a major producer and exporter in 2009.

According to Dangote, this investment in rice cultivation will boost local production and in years to come end the nation’s dependence on imported rice.

Dangote is investing heavily in agricultural sector principally because it is motivated by the desire to create jobs, empower Nigerians, and owing to a friendlier agricultural policy of the Federal Government.

The Dangote Petrochemicals is currently investing in fertilizer plant in order to boost agriculture.

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