BY Busola Aro
Olam Nigeria Limited, an agri-business company, says the price of rice will go up by December as massive flooding from River Benue damaged the company’s crops and infrastructure.
Speaking on a programme on Arise TV, Ade Adefeko, vice-president, Olam Nigeria Limited, said the incident affected the company’s $20 million investment and about 25 percent of Nigeria’s rice needs.
Adefeko described the situation as “very terrible”, adding that climate change is real despite all efforts put in place to prevent the damage.
“The entire team from the farm worked very hard to prevent the colossal damage that arose there from the dam broke the likes of the dam the dikes of the farm, and that affected us to a large extent we supply about 25 percent of Nigeria’s rice needs and that has been affected and have lost over $20 million,” he said.
“Of course, we are insured, But you can insure crops, you cannot replace crops. So, the crop has been insure, but you cannot be replaced. So you have to grow again. So we are talking about 4400 hectares of farmland gone submerged due to climate change. So it’s very serious.
“Well, like I spoke to the fact that climate change is real. There’s not much you can do about the fact that climate change is real. We’ll continue to do what we have to do. I think NiMET had warned about the impending floods, I am sure you will notice what happened in Kogi as well.
“When they say it rains. It’s not really raining, it’s pouring. So it’s terrible.”
According to Adefeko, Olam farm, located in Rukubi Doma LGA of Nasarawa state, was flooded after River Benue burst its banks and broke the dyke.
“For example, we have been battling this water for the last two to three weeks. But finally, the water pressure from the dam took over and broke the dykes and multiple spots, which we couldn’t control. It was the burst from the seams of River Benue and River Niger. Two major rivers in Nigeria are very close to Benue,” he added.
“Doma, where we are, is where we have the largest facility. We have the largest rice farm and mill on the continent. It is a $140 million investment, the national $20 million investment, which brought everything to $160 million.
“On our journey to the communities where we operate, it’s terrible. I mean, you need to come and see what is happening. We have over 57 kilometres of dikes surrounding the farms. The farm was built 12 kilometres by 7 kilometres and 57 kilometres of dikes were meant to stop the flow from entering but this was made after the 2012 major crisis. Based on that, we put a lot of things in place, but you know what? Climate change is real.”
Adefeko, however, said with such loss and damage, the price of rice will increase as the company will be forced to double production.
“Well, what happened on October 2, I will tell you that 25 percent of the crop for rice has been taken out. We should expect an increase in rice prices in December. Of course, that goes without saying, because the entire crop has been lost. We produce 25 percent of that crop to a large extent. Nigeria consumed 7 million tonnes of rice, and we produce 5 million tonnes, and we imported about 2 million tonnes,” he added.
“So right now, the quantum of rice that we’ll have to meet the shortfall will increase. So maybe two or 3 million tonnes or thereabout or 4 million tonnes. So that’s massive.”