NIGERIA – Popular Farms and Mills Limited, a subsidiary of Stallion group has invested over US$70 million to boost production of paddy rice and sesame in Nigeria to enhance economic fortune of the country.

The company, which has been operating for about 50 years in the country has one of the largest automated rice milling unit with an annual installed milling capacity of 150,000 metric tons and direct contact of 35,000 farmers.

They have collaborated with National Agricultural Seeds Council for the purpose of producing and satisfying the locally released and grown genetic seeds of which to ensure its integrity they have introduced fairly priced certified popular seeds.

Planning to increase production, the mill is targeting an output of 1.50 million tons of paddy rice per annum through the setting up of additional milling facilities aiming to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production.

“Our plan is to spearhead and lead the Nigerian rice revolution to self-sufficiency in rice production. We intend to achieve this through training to over 24, 264 rice out growers across the producing states and cooperatives, as well as empowering women and youths in the rice value chain.’’ Stated the Managing Director, Popular Farms and Mills based in Kano, Mr. Amit Kumar Rai.

“The company is leveraging on the policy impetus provided by the federal government through its Green alternative agricultural agenda. This enabled us to have upgraded our local rice milling capacity to 430,000 metric tons per annum,” he added.

In regard to sesame production and processing, Mr. Amit revealed that the company is planning to inaugurate the sesame processing and cleaning facility at Challawa, Kano, Northern Nigeria.

The initiative is timely as the country’s sesame seed export value to Asia and Europe is set to hit US$331m annually according to a report by Agusto & Co.

The pan-African credit rating agency put the value of Nigeria’s export of the crop as at fourth quarter 2018 at US$82m.

According to a report Nigeria’s cashew and sesame seeds remains key crops that would drive the export diversification bid of the federal government, considering the crops’ rapidly developing markets due to growing consumption.

It noted that the demand for Sesame seeds remains high due to demand by pharmaceuticals and industries that produce skincare product from other countries. But like other agricultural commodities which are traditionally exported in unprocessed form makes it not fetch high value.

Therefore, there is need for increased private investments in sesame processing which would involve investment in state-of-the-art processing facilities and raw material sourcing from reliable small- and large-scale farmers with good quality output.