Abimbola Akosile looks at the efforts of rice production giant, Olam Nigeria, to enhance food security and local sufficiency in
agricultural production, in a bid to help the country realise the global Sustainable Development Goals on hunger and poverty, among others Nigeria, which is in the West Africa region, is Africa’s most populous country and its economy was recently rebased as Africa’s
largest economy. One of its major
challenges is providing adequate food security for its more than 170 citizens.
Aside the crucial need for a viable
alternative to declining crude oil revenue, the need to assuage the local food demand of the huge populace was one of the main
reasons why the Federal Government has decided to prioritise agriculture under
The need to feed so many millions and achieve sufficiency in local production of food has been a topical issue and there are several vital interventions by both government and the private sector to make this a reality; in line with the first goals of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which involve eradicating poverty and hunger in the world.
According to Tim Christophersen, Senior Programme Officer, Forests and Climate Change at UNEP, agriculture plays a key and direct role in achieving the Sustainable
Development Goal (SDG 2) to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
However, to meet the world’s future food security needs, he stressed the need to make sure agriculture is also central to
strategies to address other SDGs on poverty, water, biodiversity, sustainable cities, sustainable energy, and climate change.
To him, a new paradigm of inclusive agriculture green growth is needed, and this can be achieved through four actions:
considering agriculture a key contributor to multiple SDGs, not just SDG 2 on zero hunger, building cross-sector coalitions,
transforming the financial systems, and advancing research and education.
Christophersen is of the belief that through these four steps, the world can not only feed the 9 billion world population, but also
do so in ways that sustain global
ecosystems, empower local communities and build more resilient cities.
Olam Intervention Nigeria, according to reports, has imported
nearly 17 million tonnes of rice over the past five years. The nation imported 2.3 million tonnes in 2016, while demand in the same year was 5.2 million tonnes. Rice accounted for 1.26 per cent of the entire budget for 2017.
In response to government calls for local players to help feed the 170 million Nigerians, Olam, a multi-national agribusiness, set up a rice farm in 2012.
Olam’s farm in Rukubi village in Nasarawa State is one of the largest rice farms in Nigeria and although it grows 50,000 tonnes each year, which is just a small
fraction of the country’s demand.
According to statistics provided by the Vice President Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria, Mr. Ade Adefeko, an
Olam rice project is also located at Ondorie, Nasarawa State, about 265km south east of Abuja, on the banks of the River Benue.
The project, he noted, commenced on July 1, 2010 and land development started in January, 2012. The project, from inception
till Dec 15, 2016, has reportedly gulped N20 billion, while the total area of the farm is 12,920 hectares. The current area under
cultivation in the Olam rice project is 4,351 hectares.
The Olam rice farm currently employs 1,044 persons (594 regular, 450 seasonal); the
mill also hires 959 employees (81 regular, 878 seasonal), while 90 per cent of the workers are from local communities around the farm to boost employment.
The current number of out growers is 4,003, while the target number of outgrowers by 2018 is
Olam is developing a 10,000 hectare fully irrigated paddy farm on greenfield site in Ondorie, Nasarawa State. The farm is expected to yield 10 MT per hectare (over two annual crop cycles), based on four varieties of high-yield rice tested with the
West African Rice Development Association 4,450 hectares are already under cultivation, with a further 3,000 hectares on target for 2017/18.
Integrating Processing At the heart of the Olam rice farm is a
mechanised rice milling facility, which incorporates Satake milling technology and Italian par boiling technology. This is expected to provide 67,500 metric tonnes
(MT) of milled rice per annum to the domestic market.
The ‘nucleus’ model combines the quality control of a large scale commercial farm with the cost and scalscalability benefits of
smallholder ‘outgrower’ networks. The rice- growing communities in Nasarawa, Benue and Kaduna States are supported by Olam with group formation, training and all agri- inputs on credit in order to improve their own paddy yields and revenues with assured buy back system