Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Group, will own 50,000 cows by 2019, and produce 500 million litres of milk per year.
The group, principally owned by Africa’s richest man, plans to invest $3.8 billion in sugar and rice and $800 million in dairy production in the next three years.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, Nigeria needs about 1.5 billion litres of milk annually.
US department of agriculture also puts Nigeria’s “insufficient” milk import at $225 million per year, stating that the country’s dairy market has a potential in excess of $3 billion.
With Dangote’s drive, the group will produce a third of the country’s ideal demand and nearly all of its current import.
According to Bloomberg, the company seeks to expand and deal with a shortage of dollars needed to import raw materials.
The conglomerate plans to increase its production of sugar to 1.5 million metric tonnes a year by 2020 from 100,000 tons now and is seeking to add 1 million tonnes of rice.
In an interview on Tuesday, Edwin Devakumar, executive director at Dangote, said lack of foreign exchange means companies need to invest in local agriculture to help meet demand for food from Nigeria’s population of more than 180 million.
“All raw sugar has to be imported today, same thing for flour milling,” Bloomberg quoted Devakumar to have said.
Dangote, whose cement unit is Nigeria’s biggest listed company, has been investing in agriculture as the country’s government seeks to diversify away from oil, which accounts for 90 percent of the nation’s export earnings and the bulk of revenue.
The economy, which plunged into its first recession in a quarter-century last year amid falling crude prices, is forecast by the World Bank to expand by 1.2 percent this year.
Dangote plans to cultivate 350,000 hectares (864,850 acres) of land for sugar cane and add 200,000 hectares for rice, according to Devakumar.
The company has ordered five plants for sugar milling and 10 for rice from Switzerland to be located in the north of the country, he said.