Food security through Agricultural transformation agenda
Nigeria’s immense agricultural potential is a great asset for the nation and Africa to be a global powerhouse in food, with promises for food security when fully harnessed. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the current government with emphasis on value chains has opened up lots of business opportunities in the agricultural sectors for farmers and investors to tap into.
The agriculture sector grew by 38.53 percent (quarter-on-quarter basis) in Q3 of 2014, with crop production being the main driver with a growth of 43.50 percent according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Rice Nigeria is making remark- able process towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production. The Federal Government began a massive programme to subsidise the cost of the new rice varieties for farmers, providing them free of charge. Today, almost all rice farmers cultivate the new varieties, Faro 44 and Faro 52, which meet the quality requirements of rice millers.
Average yields on farmers’ rice fields increased from 1.5 metric tons per hectare to 4 to 5 metric tons (MT) per hectare. Paddy rice production is accelerating than at any time in Nigeria’s history. According to the Akinwumi Adesina, minister of Agriculture, “the number of integrated modern rice mills in the country rose from 5 to 17 within two years, all processing the local paddy into high quality finished rice. The expanded local rice production has added over N 500 billion ($ 3 billion) to the economy, with over N 265 billion $1.6 billion as net incomes to farmers and rice processors, and boosted rural economy by 1.7 million jobs.” Investors are moving massively into local rice production and milling.
Olam has invested $ 125 million in a fully mechanized rice farm and processing mills commissioned by the President last year. Its 105,000 MT integrated rice mill is the largest in Africa. Dangote Company has committed to invest $1 billion (N 165 billion) in cultivation of 150,000 ha of rice and 210,000 MT modern rice processing systems across 5 States of Nigeria (Edo, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Jigawa), while high quality rice from the $40 million Dominion farms will soon hit the market. WACOT is investing $40 million in new commercial rice farms and processing in Kebbi state.
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High-quality Nigerian rice is now in the market, including Umza rice, Quarra rice, Damodi, Mama’s pride, Ebony super rice, Eko rice, Mikap rice and several others. “Nigerians eat our high quality local rice, but do not know. We have totally changed the quality. Within four years, Nigeria will be a net exporter of rice, just like Thailand and India. Our “Nigerian rice” will become global exhibition,” Adesina said.
Cocoa Nigeria, the world’s fourth- largest producer of the chocolate ingredient behind Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia, set a target to produce at least 500,000 tons of cocoa by the end of the season running through September 2015 as more trees got to an age where they produce the beans. The country produced 350,000 tons of cocoa in the 2013-2014 seasons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The International Cocoa Organization assessed the nation’s production for that season at 240,000 tons.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, our cocoa output has grown from 250,000 to 370,000mts in the past two years and we expect to reach more than 600,000mts by 2016 as the new hybrids go into full production. He also said that more than 1.4 million pods of the hybrids varieties had been distributed to farmers across the cocoa growing states, translating into more than 50,000 seedlings of hybrid cocoa enough to cultivate additional 45,000 hectares of new cocoa plantations. The cocoa revolution in Nigeria is receiving global attention, as Mars Incorporated, global company, has invested $20 million to pro- cure cocoa from over 20,000 certified cocoa farmers.
Cassava Nigeria has a comparative advantage in the production of Cassava. Its cassava production is by far the largest in the world; a third more than production in Brazil and almost double the production of Indonesia and Thailand. “Our goal is to become the largest processor of cassava in the world, with the use of cassava for flour to partially substitute for imported wheat flour in bread and confectioneries, starch, sweeteners, chips and ethanol,” the minister said. Last year, Flour Mills of Nigeria and Honey Well, launched their 10 percent Cassava and Wheat Composite Flour in Abuja, this brought a total revolution of the flour market.
Tomatoes Nigeria is ranked the second largest producer of tomato in Africa and 13th in the world with a total production estimated at 1 million hectares of land producing 1.701 million tonnes per annum with average of 20-30 tons/ hectare. Nigeria is the largest importer of tomato paste from China and Italy. This is now changing as a number of investors are now investing in Tomatoes production in the country. Dansa Foods, a local private firm, is investing $35 mil- lion in the establishment of a tomato processing plant. This Tomato processing factory is described as the largest tomato processing plant in Africa and is said to have 1,200 metric tons installed capacity when fully operational.