Olam management has re-instated its commitments to helping Nigeria advance its journey to self sufficiency in rice production by bridging the gap in local production and importation. This is coming on the heels of the company call for caution in the handling of excessive import duties and levies on rice as it might lead to smuggling of cheaper rice from neighbouring countries which will be counter productive to the protection of domestic rice producers and local rice investors.
“Whilst Olam fully appreciated the need to support and protect domestic rice producers and local rice investors amongst which we would count the 3,000 rice farmers in our out-grower programme in Nasarawa State.
We understand that Nigeria still needs to import rice until local production reaches a level of self-sufficiency. We therefore caution the potential smuggling of cheaper rice from neighbouring countries that could occur should import duties and levies become excessive.”
In a release made available to vanguard, Olam’s total investment including fixed and working capital in Nigeria is about N177 billion across various agricultural and processing supply chains contributing to the development of the non-oil economy.
According to the release ,Olam said from what they have seen from the progress of their smallholder out-grower programme, which is set to embrace 16,000 rice farmers by 2018, that large scale commercial farms can work hand in hand with small-scale farmers.
“The Olam farm also supports an ‘out grower programme’ whereby surrounding rice-growing communities are supported by the Olam farm with training, pre-finance, fertiliser and seeds in order to improve their paddy yields.
The release added “Currently, 3,000 farmers are engaged in the programme, with a target of 16,000 by 2018. This investment is specifically in line with the Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda to produce rice for the domestic market thereby boosting self-sufficiency.”