Rice investor stakes N20b on backward integration plan
As part of its backward integration plan in the rice sector, Pearl Universal Impex, an importer of rice, has committed over $100 million (about N20 billion) on the cultivation of 7,500 hectares of rice farm and construction of two rice mills in Niger state.
The chairman of the company, Pulkit Jain, who disclosed this while receiving the Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, at the farms recently, said the proposed investment, will see the firm creating 4000 direct jobs and 20000 indirect jobs through their outgrower scheme.
Pulkit Jain, in a statement, said the firm intends to farm rice three times a year on the land.
“We have some challenges, such as the bad road here. But we are bringing $2 million of our own money to invest in the road, bringing the total of the entire project to $100 million”, he said.
Jain disclosed that the company has been a major importer of rice in the country with imports of 350,000 metric tonnes of rice yearly in the past, but chose to invest in cultivation and milling of scientifically tested, high yielding varieties of rice in order to achieve the Federal Government’s target of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
Jain added that the company is also in the process of setting up integrated rice mills with parboiling and drying facilities in Borgu and Bida local government areas of the state, each with paddy processing capacity of 150,000 tons per annum.
“We will also support the out grower farmers in Niger state by providing them with technical knowhow, improved seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and subsequently procure high quality paddy from them to feed 100 per cent capacity of the rice mills”, he stressed.
He said to underline the firm’s commitment to the project, the company in June this year, started a pilot scheme to determine the variety of rice most suitable to the region on a 500 hectares of land in Saminaka, a community situated around Swashi Dam in Borgu local Government Area of the state.
While noting that the study is being managed by reputable international agriculture experts, he disclosed that they have already employed about 50 youths, adding that “once the project is stabilized, it is expected to create 4000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs to community farmers that will benefit from the company’s out growers’ scheme. With proper irrigation and soil management, it is possible to grow three crops of high yielding rice in a year”.
Niger state governor, Sani Bello, however promised to facilitate the construction of the road among other things, while pledging the state government’s support to the facilitation of the project.
He also urged the company not to disappoint the people or engage in any shady business, while assuring them of facilitation of any intervention fund as well as providing necessary assistance for the project.