By Ginika Okoye
Africa’s largest rice farmers and producers, Olam Agro and Processing Company Limited, has promised to bridge demand and supply gap in rice production by producing 60 million metric tonnes by 2018.
The General Manager and Project Coordinator of the Nigerian based Indian company, Mr Mahesh Nimje, gave the assurance in Rukumbi-Nasarawa State while taking journalists round the farm on Tuesday.
He said that the company was currently producing 40,000 metric tonnes of rice but was targeting 4,500 metric tonnes from 13,500 hectares by 2018.
Nimje noted that this could trigger economic revolution and ensure food security in Nigeria
According to him, the demand for rice in Nigeria is currently at six million tonnes, while the supply is a 3.5 million tonnes while the demand and supply gap is still at 2.5 metric tonnes.
Nimje explained that the gap and high cost of production were major reasons for the high price of rice in the market.
“Demand has gone more than the supply and that cannot be filled in one year, it will take few years to bridge the gap.
“The general rice consumption in Nigeria is about 6 million tonnes but only about 3.5 million tonnes are being produced.
“Demand has increased as a result of the high cost of production in the seeds cost, fertilisers, chemical cost.
“Unless there is enough rice in the market, low input costs, the price of rice will not come down very soon,” he said.
The general manager listed some of the challenges hampering the efforts of the company in rice production to include power and high cost of agro-chemicals.
Nimje said the company had employed no fewer than 3,000 local workers and 500 outgrower farmers in the site.
He appealed to the Federal Government to encourage young farmers into the business by providing loan facilities for them.
Some of the local farmers commended the company for their support in the provision of seeds and other farm implements.
Mr Shuaibu Hassan, a local outgrower and farmer, appealed to the government to make fertilisers available for them as and at when due.
Another rice farmer, Mr Sani Abubakar called for government support to encourage and boost rice production for local consumption and exports in the country.
Olam farms are the farmers and producers of Mama Pride and Chef Choice rice in the markets.