Tuesday, March 3, 2020 5:04 pm
… Promises Affordable Rice
By Daniels Ekugo
The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Sabo Nanono visited Popular Farm and Mills Limited, a Stallion Group Company with other dignitaries. These were: Prof Sabagi Special Advisor to Minister, Hon Munir Umar Baba from the house of representatives, Mrs. K. I Babangida, Director Federal Department of Agriculture and many others.
The Honourable Minister stated that Nigeria has the necessary resources to achieve self-sufficiency in rice. There are over 50,000 agric graduates that can get associated with Agric Extension services to drive better yield in the country. New technologies in farming should now percolate from the research institutes to actual farming practices in the field. The Federal Government will soon introduce Mechanisation Hub for all 650 local governments that will support the farming community with training and stocking of farming equipment like tractors, power tillers, harvester combiners etc.
The Minister further added that “I see no reason why a 50kg bag of rice should be sold for N17,000, the same paddy rice is sold at N8,500 and maximum processing expense is N2,000 making a total of N10,500, it is unpatriotic to sell a bag more than N14,000 – N 15000.” He will soon have a meeting with the rice millers to conclude on an affordable rate for rice for the consumers.
Stallion Group’s Popular Farms & Mills registered the best quarterly sale of rice post Nigeria’s land border closure. The border closure has definitely boosted the local agriculture in Africa’s most populous country. The policy roll out did come with some very severe short-term effects of price inflation and undesirable impact on legal cross border trade. But nonetheless it was essential for a turnaround in the economy. The company is grateful to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the much-needed call to close the land borders to restrict rampant smuggling and the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele for supporting favourable Agric policies in this country.
The Honourable Minister, commended Stallion Group’s Popular Farms and Mills Limited, for investing an additional USD $70m to boost production of agric business, especially rice and sesame in Nigeria. He applauded Popular Farm’s local rice value chain from farmers to final retailers and clearly sees the huge potential and feels highly encouraged. As an organization PFML is pushing forward the agenda of opportunity, sufficiency & security in the country. He agreed that Stallion Group has transformed itself into a productive and community sensitive company helping outgrowers with all farming needs. The group is investing further in additional milling facilities to obtain self-sufficiency in rice, locally. Recently KPMG valued two of the top Stallion Group rice brands Royal Stallion at N66.1 Bn and Caprice at N 41.5 08 Bn a consolidated valuation of N 107.6 Bn establishing leadership in the formal retail market. Some of the other popular brands from the company are Tomato King, Double Bull, People’s Princess and Super Champion.
The minister also highlighted that the Government is contemplating to initiate the privatization of the fertilizer business and the use of husk as biofuel to run the rice mills for better output.
The MD of Popular Farms & Mills Ltd, Mr. Amit Kumar Rai, stated that the company has entered into a partnership with over 1,151 cooperative groups, having 41,486 member-farmers as well as 65,715ha of rice farm area for developing the rice business. The group imparts training and distributes rice farming tools free of cost to out growers across the rice producing states in Nigeria as a part of fulfilment of dedicated service towards achieving its rice value chain initiative. The group believes that focus on empowering communities leads to more progressive farmers and greater economic and social opportunities for households. “Popular Agric Centers” (also known as Aggregation Canters) spread across rice producing states of Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Zamfara, Kwara in Nigeria are nodal points at the doorstep of farmers for all backward integrated activities which includes training, knowledge disseminations, input distributions, quality testing, off-taking and transit storage. It has established collection centers across rice producing states to not only help farmers embrace modern farming techniques but also focus on distributing agric inputs through farmers cooperatives and associations.