NIGERIA – Olam Nigeria Limited has launched its new locally produced rice into the Nigerian market.
The Business Head, Rice, Olam Nigeria Limited, Mr. Anil Nair explained that this move by the company was aimed at providing high quality rice for the Nigerian consumers as well as helping the nation to be self-sufficient in rice production.
Nair, during an official presentation of Mama’s pride rice into the nation’s market stated that the launch was also coming in line with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the federal government to boost the agricultural sector and conserve the nation’s foreign exchange.
“We are launching our rice into the Nigerian market. Although it has been in the market since July, we have had challenges in production, but we believe over time, these challenges would be surmounted,” he said.
He added that Lagos, being the biggest market in the country, Olam newly introduced rice is a step in the right direction to bridge the gap of importation.
“We have a milling capacity of about 800,000 tonnes and we believe in no distant time with the help of the government and other key stakeholders in ther ice industry, the nation will eliminate importation of rice completely,” he added.
He advised Nigerians to change their mind set of choosing imported rice over locally produced rice, saying that locally produced rice is far more nutritious when compared to imported rice.
“The issue is a mind set thing. It is a practice of milling. If you have a state-of-the-art facility, you can extract stones and other particles in the rice. The quality of the soils and fertilisers in the country is very good for production,” he stated.
According to him, the company has been into backward integration of rice since 2004 and also stressed that it has thousands of out growers working with the company.
He added that smuggling has continued to plague the rice industry, noting that smuggled rice still find their way into Nigerian market.
“Smuggling is also one of the biggest concerns that we have because if you go round the Nigerian market, you will see a lot of smuggled rice in the market. I believe the farmers and manufacturers are finding it difficult to compete with imported rice.
Currently, we have supplied over 500 tonnes into Lagos in the last 2 weeks, any rice that comes into the market takes some time before customers starts accepting it but we are taking the rice in all the market possible and hopefully, we believe more rice will enter the market,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the President, Rice Association of Nigeria, Mrs. Esther Akinsanya commended Olam for the launch, stressing that if the nation can produce rice of such quality, there is no need to embark on importation for the commodity.
“We are very happy to see that this type of high quality rice can be grown here in Nigeria. If we can get this type of rice in Nigeria locally, there will be no need for importation. If they can continue like this and expand, our youths will be gainfully employed and the country will also save its foreign exchange, she said.
In her words, “Nigeria can even start to export and the federal government must support companies like these to make the country self-reliant in rice production. Rice is an essential commodity and there is nobody that does not eat rice,” she added.
She called on the federal government to create a conducive environment to make local production competitive and attractive.
“Nigerians will always be happy eating made-in-Nigeria rice. Waivers should be sustained and government must focus on supporting local production. The Nigerian rice is natural and more nutritious than the imported rice,” she stressed.