Morrocco, Marrakech, Apr 18 – African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina now says billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote may become the largest exporter of rice in the world by 2021.
Speaking at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco over the weekend, Adesina narrated how Dangote decided to invest about a billion dollars into locally produced rice in Nigeria.
“I remember when I was a minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Aliko Dangote was there, and he was our biggest importer at the time, and he and I used to have all the time to dialogue. One day, I was in my office, about 10 O’clock, Aliko walks in, Ngozi was the minister of finance. Aliko bangs on my door and said ‘minister I came to see you’, and I said ‘what are we going to disagree on this time?’” Adesina narrated.
“He said no, I have actually looked at the policies, and the policies you put in place for import substitution are very right policies. So, I have changed my business model from being an importer to being a local producer. I will put in $300 million into producing and processing rice in Nigeria. I said yippee! I went home, I told my wife, my best day as a minister,” he said.
Dangote came back three months later with a changed mind to invest a billion dollars rather than $300 billion.
“If they 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 prophesied.
Adesina urged African countries to focus on agriculture to drive growth and create jobs in the continent.
Aliko Dangote , the Chairman of Dangote Rice Limited, said he was moved to go into rice cultivation because of 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.
He lamented that Nigeria consumes 6.5 Mtn of rice which costs the nation over 2 billion dollars annually pointing out that it is heartening that the government now has policy direction that encourages private sector’s active participation in agriculture.
He disclosed then that “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 ha and when we are done, Nigeria will not have anything to do with importation of rice.
“Dangote Rice out-growers’ scheme is committed to creating a significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of smallholders’ farmers and ensuring food security in the country by providing high-quality seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals as well as technical assistance on best agricultural practice to farmers.
“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.