NIGERIA – Dangote Group, Nigeria’s leading diversified investment firm, has announced that it was scaling up its investment in the country’s agriculture sector.

The pan-African congromelate which owns NASCON Allied Industries, Dangote Flour mills and Dangote Sugar in the agriculture sector said that it will be increasing its focus in sugar, rice, oilseeds and dairy industries across the country.

The Group’s Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Project and Portfolio Development of the group, Mr. Devakumar VG Edwin, said the the company will also be increasing its investments tomato processing sector, reports Daily Trust.

Edwin notes the company is constructing state-of-the-art storage silos as well as carrying out parboiling, rice milling, polishing, sorting and parking units for a total capacity of one million tons of paddy.

The group is also constructing about six large-scale industrial processing mills, each with about 250,000 tonnes per annum capacity, in six states: Jigawa, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kano and in Nasarawa.

He said there is an ongoing “investment in 15,000 hectares of land to produce and process tomato paste of 150,000 tons per year. The current import is 0.5 million tons per year.”

The group has also acquired the state-owned Songhai project in Katsina State and is establishing tomato production and processing facilities.

The group seeks to convert the facility, which was used as an agriculture skill development centre, into an agribusiness development centre for seed development and multiplication for training and skill development and all sort of trials.

The conglomerate was equally investing in 40,000 hectares to produce sugar, just as he hinted about the ongoing construction of a three million tons fertilizer plant.

The Dangote group director said most of its agricultural investments, especially in rice, is based on the out-grower scheme. The company’s plans also include investment in dairy products and oil seeds.

Early this year, the group which has currently acquired thousands of hectares across major rice and sugarcane producing belts for production and processing, said that its will now focus only on processing.

Edwin noted that the invetsments are significant and timely given the current rate of unemployment in the country. Agriculture employs 37 percent of Nigeria’s current population, which is projected to hit 440 million by the year 2050.