The President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has asserted that Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, will become the largest exporter of rice in the world by 2021.
Adesina said this at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco at the weekend.
He urged Africa to focus on agriculture to drive growth and employment on the continent.
Adesina recalled that during his tenure as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Dangote decided to invest in local production of rice due to government’s import substitution policies.
Adesina said that Dangote initially planned a $300 million investment in production and processing of rice in Nigeria but later increased it to $1 billion three months after.
“If they continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years.
“The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business and agriculture pays,” Adesina said.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Group, said that he ventured into rice cultivation because of the government’s interest to revive agriculture as the mainstay of the economy and reduce the importation of foods that could be produced locally.
He lamented that Nigeria consumes 6.5 million metric tonnes of rice which costs the nation over $2 billion annually and commended government’s policy that encourages private sector’s active participation in agriculture.