Africa’s richest man, Nigeria’s Alhaji Aliko Dangote, is taking the issue of food security and high unemployment levels in his country seriously, and is forging ahead to help out.
One of his companies, Dangote Rice, announced early this week that it would launch a 25 000 hectares of rice outgrower scheme in Sokoto State. Sokoto State (capital Sokoto), is located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria near the confluence of the rivers of Sokoto and Rima. It has an estimated population of 4.3 million.
Similar projects are planned to be launched across Nigeria’s 14 states to empower local farmers and create job opportunities for community dwellers, and reduce migration to the cities. The first of such scheme was launched in Jigawa State (central Nigeria), and Sokoto is the second stage, Dangote Rice, a subsidiary of Dangote Group, said.
Group chairman Dangote said a 500 ha-pilot project kicked off on Wednesday in the Goronyo community along the Goronyo dam. The dam is believed to be the second largest in the country after Kainji.
The company said it was planning to produce 225 000 metric-tons (MT) of parboiled, milled white rice by the end of this year. This will allow to satisfy 4% of the total market demand within one year.
The country produces annually about eight million tonnes of maize and 50 million tonnes of cassava, but this is not enough to feed its ever increasing population, which is now hovering toward 200 million.
Rice demand in Nigeria reached 6.3 million MT in 2015, with only 2.3 million MT of that demand satisfied by local production, according to estimates from the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development (FMARD). This local production shortfall leaves a gap of 4.0 million MT currently being filled through formal importation of rice or illegal imports over land borders.
Terrorism-hit Nigeria, Africa’s second-largest oil producer behind Angola, has been rocked by an unprecedented food security crisis, mostly triggered by the Boko Haram insurgency and decades of state corruption, nepotism, bad governance and failed policies.
Although many states have so far not been affected by the Islamist insurgency, ‘hungry’ and jobless people moving from one state to another to search for food and jobs or a piece of fertile land are believed to be putting host cities and villages under tremendous pressure.
Photo credit: BuzWatchNigeria