President of Dangote Group, Ailko Dangote over the weekend flagged off his multibillion Naira 8000 hectares of Rice Outgrowers Scheme in Hadejia, Jigawa State as part of his partnership with governments at all levels to reduce food imports.
This is coming as Government turns attention to agriculture to ease the pressure on the economy and create jobs,
The launch of the Scheme which was marked with the distribution of rice seedlings to the benefitting farmers, is with the potential to provide direct jobs for 5000 farmers and another 5000 indirect jobs for various scheme dependants.
The rice project is which is expected to be replicated in six other states of the federation is a fallout of memorandum of understanding signed between Dangote and the Federal government on one hand and the Jigawa State government.
Speaking shortly before he made the distribution, Dangote explained that Nigeria depended on Agriculture for economic development before the discovery of oil.
He however noted that though oil was meant to complement the agric sector yet sadly, the nation abandoned it and concentrated on oil.
It would be recalled that years back, the Nigerian economy was built around potentials from our palm oil, groundnut, cotton, and rubber plantations, but now the story is sadly different!
Dangote said Nigerian agricultural commodities and food imports bills had averaged over One Trillion Naira in the past two years 2013 and 2014, with foods like sugar, wheat, rice, fish accounting for 93 per cent of the total cost of imports, a situation he described as unacceptable for any one who loves the country.