BY OLUSHOLA BELLO, Lagos and RUTH TENE NATSA, Abuja
The Dangote Group has disclosed that it will be investing $1 billion on rice cultivation in five states to boost food self-sufficiency.
A director of the Group, Tunde Mabogunje, gave the hint at the just concluded 2017 Gateway trade fair held in Abeokuta.
“We are investing about $1 billion in rice cultivation. We have an outgrowers scheme where thousands of farmers are empowered with improved seeds and items needed to cultivate rice”, Mabogunje who spoke on behalf of the Group at the fair said.
He stated that Dangote Group, apart from being at the forefront of job creation and is the largest employer of labour outside federal government, has been contributing its quota to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy for more than three decades.
He said, “Towards aiding agriculture, we are building a fertilizer plant in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos State. When completed, farmers will have regular access to fertilizer for their farming activities. The delays and disruptions experienced in waiting for imported fertilizer will cease.
“We are investing in rice cultivation in some states of the federation. We have an outgrowers scheme where thousands of farmers are empowered with improved seeds and items needed to cultivate rice”.
Mabogunje also said the partnership with OGUNCCIMA is beneficial as Ogun State is the host of the 12 mmtpa Dangote Cement Plant, Ibese, the second largest cement plant in Nigeria.
To mark its day at the fair, a subsidiary of the Group, Dangote Cement, gave out several tools and implements to the block makers in Ogun State in appreciation of their patronage.
Tools such as wheel barrows, shovels, umbrellas and hand gloves were donated to block makers who assembled from different areas of the state.
During the 10-day trade fair, Dangote Flour delighted customers and participants with free sampling of its new pasta products.
The wet sampling made the Group’s pavilion the center of activities at the fair as participants trooped in for their daily meal, even as customers were rewarded with branded coolers, kitchen aprons, exercise books and customized ladles.
Commending Dangote Group for its sponsorship and participation at the fair, President of Ogun State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OGUNCCIMA), Mrs. Adesola Adebutu, said the support given by the Group went a long way in making the staging of the fair a success.
She commended the Pan African Conglomerate for its giant strides in economic development of the country through massive investments in several sectors of the economy, describing the feat as worthy of emulation by other Nigerians.
In his response, Mabogunje said, “Dangote Cement, through the plant, provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the state. As a responsible corporate citizen, we participate fully in all events and activities designed to drive social and economic welfare of the state.”
He described the theme for this year’s Trade Fair ‘Promoting Agricultural Value Chain through SMEs for Nigeria Economic Recovery’, as being apt given that the nation is now paying attention to Agriculture, which has the potential of becoming the major driver of the economy instead of oil.
Rice Smuggling: FG Threatens To Close Borders With Neighbouring Countries
Meanwhile, the federal government has threatened to shut some land borders if the smuggling of rice continues from neighbouring countries.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, gave the warning yesterday, while addressing journalists on federal government’s achievements in the agriculture sector in the last two years in Abuja.
Ogbeh said the decision had become necessary to encourage local rice farmers and to enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in rice by 2018.
His words: “We believe they are determined to sabotage the efforts that we are making to guarantee self-sufficiency in rice and to save foreign exchange which we don’t have.
“They insist on bringing in rice through the land borders, avoiding the duties and the levies we put on them and they are definitely bent on sabotaging our efforts and we are getting increasingly unhappy with them.
“And I must say that very soon, if they persist, we will take very nasty measures against them. We will like to advise our neighbours, who believe that the ECOWAS treaty means that Nigeria is a volunteer nation for economic suicide”.