It is no doubt that unemployment is one of the biggest problems facing Nigeria. The unemployment report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in December 2018 showed that the unemployment rate increased from 18.8% during the third quarter of 2017, to 23.1% in the same period in 2018. According to the report, about 20.9 million Nigerians were out of jobs during the period under review.
Therefore, in order to address the rising unemployment rate in the country, Dangote Group has decided to scale up investments in agriculture. The investment, which was announced at the just concluded 2nd Edition of the Agribusiness Summit in Abuja, is expected to create jobs in the country.
According to Dangote Group’s Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Project and Portfolio Development Mr Devakumar VG Edwin, agriculture was the only most visible way of addressing the high unemployment rate in the country. He assured that the huge investments that would go into the sector would lead to real growth and development of the economy of the country.
The investments: Edwin stated that the Group would be investing in rice, tomato paste, sugar and dairy products. He disclosed that there was an ongoing investment in 15,000 hectares to produce and process tomato paste of 150,000 tons per year as the current import is 0.5million tons per year. He added that the conglomerate would equally invest in 40,000 hectares to produce sugar and that there was ongoing construction of a 3 million tons fertilizer plant.
He said presently the Pan-African Conglomerate was constructing state-of-the-art storage silos, and also carrying out parboiling, rice milling, polishing, sorting and parking units for a total capacity of one million tons of paddy.
Edwin expressed optimism in growing the agricultural sector while hinting that the company was also planning on including investment in dairy products and oilseeds.
“Agriculture employs 37% of the population. This is against the backdrop of the 23% unemployment rate in the country. The time is rife to put the agricultural sector in the front burner, more so that Nigeria’s ever-growing population is projected to hit 440 million by the year 2050,” he said.