By Sumaila Ogbaje
Mr Fahad Mangal, Executive Director, Darma Rice Mill Ltd, said the company would set up a 600,000 tonnes capacity rice mill in Katsina to bridge the gap in rice consumption demand in Nigeria.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja, Mangal said the mill would support the Federal Government’s effort at making Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production.
He added that the production plan was divided into two phases, saying that the first phase would be 300,000 tonnes per annum capacity of two lines of 16 tonnes per hour rice mill.
According to him, the first phase of the project will take off before the second quarter of 2020 while the second phase of another 300,000 will come on stream immediately after.
“In total, we are talking about 50 million US Dollars volume of investment which is about N15.2 billion. If you look at it, Katsina is a strategic location and has vast land for farming.
“Already we have engaged farmers with some sort of loan who would be farming the paddy rice that we will buy. Apart from that, there are available paddy rice all over the country especially the neighbouring states like Kano, Zamfara, and Jigawa.
“Our target market will be basically the North West down to the North Central where we have big market for rice. In Kano, Kaduna and Abuja for instance, we have a population of over 10 million people and we all know that our major food is rice.
“If you look at rice demand in Nigeria also, we are still not meeting the local demand because we are still importing rice and by putting up a plant in Katsina, we hope that in the next two to three years we will be self-sufficient and meet our local demand,’’ Mangal said.
He said that the firm would also explore exporting to neighbouring countries in future, adding that the major focus of the company was to produce quality rice for local consumption.
“When we meet our domestic demand for rice, our next target is to start exporting it across the West African countries. Government has also shown commitment to supporting this investment in rice by supporting manufacturing and agricultural businesses.
“I can assure you that we will create not less than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs when the mill is completed and operational,’’ he said.
Mangal also disclosed that the firm would set up a fertilizer plant in the same location in order to support farming in the state.
He said that the company would produce a minimum of one million tonnes of fertilizer per annum by the first quarter of 2020.