Dangote Group has said that its 8000 hectares of rice growers scheme in Jigawa State will create about 10,000 jobs. The scheme is a public-private partnership between the group and the state aimed at reducing food imports in the country. The launch of the scheme marked the distribution of rice seedlings to farmers and has the potential of providing direct jobs for 5000 farmers and another 5000 for the scheme dependents. The project is being executed by Dangote Rice Limited and is expected to be launched in six other states.
Speaking about the initiative, Aliko Dangote said it was necessary to diversify the economy and one of such ways was to go back to agriculture. He lamented the fall in oil price saying it had drastically reduced revenue for the government. He said it was important to use agriculture to launch a recovery for the economy since Nigeria had relied on agricultural produce like palm oil, rubber, groundnut and cotton. According to Dangote, Nigerian agricultural commodities and food imports bills has averaged over N1 trillion in the past two years, with foods like sugar, wheat, rice, fish accounting for 93 per cent of the total cost of imports.
“Before the discovery of oil, our economy was built around potentials from our palm oil, groundnut, cotton, and rubber plantations. Now the price of oil has plummeted from a peak of $116 per barrel in June 2014 to as low as $29 per barrel in January 2016, this means there is huge loss of revenue to the government.”
He promised to ensure that the farmers are trained adequately and given necessary inputs to improve yield and income for the farmers.
Also present at the event, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, commended the initiative and said it would help provide food security, jobs as well as reduce dependency on food importation. He promised that the government would help the farmers access farm implements to aid higher crop yield. He said the government was ready to support the scheme lamenting that $20 billion was spent on importation of food.
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