Jonathan, who expressed happiness at being part of the revolution in the Nigerian rice industry said being the largest economy in Africa (in terms of GDP) is not enough for Nigeria, but the country must work towards becoming the largest food producer on the continent.
“Nigeria must be self-sufficient in food production,” Jonathan added.
The president noted that rice production was scaling up in the country as evident in the increase in the number of integrated rice mills from one to 18 in the past three years.
He urged Nigerians to start appreciating locally made rice, which he noted was more nutritious and healthier than imported rice. “It is only the Nigerian rice that is served in the State House,” Jonathan added.
“I look forward to the day when Nigeria rice will go beyond our shores and traded internationally,” the president said, adding that with the growth achieved thus far, it is a possible feat for the country to achieve.
Jonathan promised to always support public-private partnership aimed at developing the country’s agricultural sector as part of effort to help the country achieve its developmental goals.
Olam’s Managing Director for Africa and Middle East, Venkataramani Srivathsan said the mill characterises three important aspects; “It demonstrates how large-scale commercial farms can work hand in hand with smallholders to help advance Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, generating rural prosperity through local processing.”
He added that the mill also speaks volume of Nigeria’s ability to grow high quality, nutritious rice that can enhance domestic food security by providing an alternative to imports.
Agricultural Minister, Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the country’s rice policy will turn it away from being a rice importing country to a major rice exporter.
“The investment by Olam in a commercial rice farm and integrated rice mill will help boost domestic production and milling of international quality grade rice in Nigeria,” said Adesina.