NIGERIA – The Federal government has said that it has allocated more than US$29 million to purchase ten large integrated rice milling machines by December 2019 with an aim to boost rice production in ten states.

An article by the Guardian reported that according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh, benefiting states would indicate interest as off-takers and make 10% down-payment expressing their technical capacity to own and operate the mill.

The ten rice mills are expected to produce 100 tonnes of rice per day and the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) is expected to take over the loans’ repayment in the next 10 years.

“As these people arrive, they will install these mills and the BoA will take over the loans’ repayment over a period of 10 years.

“Building machines is not cheap.

It’s a scientific thing. These people say they may do it faster but we should give those 18 months so that there won’t be issues for delays,” said Ogbeh.

According to him, there are about 16 existing large rice mills from the already procured 100 mills, with the capacity to mill 100 tonnes of rice paddy daily while others could mill about 300 tonnes daily.

“Dangote just brought in 10 milling machines which will produce one million tonnes of rice per annum but there are smaller ones we gave out, about 200 mills of 10 tonnes and 20 tonnes per annum operating in villages and small corners equipped with the stoners,” he said.

“We are buying smaller mills and giving them out because the smaller mills produce more rice than the big mills added up but they are scattered all over the country.”

The government is embarking to increasing capacity in the rice sector even as demand for paddy in Nigeria and Africa continues to rise.

In 2015, rice demand in Nigeria hit 6.3 million metric tonnes (MT) with 2.3 million metric tonnes produced at home, leaving the country reliant on imports, according to the agriculture ministry.

Dangote Group through its subsidiary Dangote Rice Ltd has in the recent past unveiled plans to launch a rice mill with a farm scheme in Nigeria to tap growing demand for paddy.