While hope remains on the proposed inauguration of the Taraba State Integrated Rice Farm, a partnership between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Dominion farms, a Guthrie, Oklahoma based farming company, the Lagos State government has actualised its dream of contributing to food production in the country by decreasing Nigeria’s heavy reliance on imported rice.
Yesterday, May 15, 2012, the Lagos State government commissioned a rice processing factory in Imota, Lagos. The factory is situated on a 23,000-hectare industrial estate and has about 10,000-tonnes storage for rice paddy and 45,000-tonne capacity storage for finished rice. It is reported that the factory has the capacity to produce 20,000 metric tonnes per annum (equivalent to either 350,000 or 400,000 bags).
Governor Babatunde Fashola unveiled the factory, along with the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal, and Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. Alhaji Bukar Tijani Borno.
Governor Fashola said that the rice mill story started four years ago when he was sworn in to office and was informed that the rice production capacity of the state, yearly, is 30 hectares.
“We resolved to do 500 hectares per annum but we were told: if you do this, how do you process it? So, we decided in 2011 to build this processing mill before we increase production, so that there will be no wastages when we achieve increased production.”
The Governor was optimistic about the provision of employment to hoodlums and street urchins popularly referred to as “area boys” or agberos. He asked them to vacate the streets and key in on the employment opportunities that the factory offers. He said that the time for wealth without work was over.
“This is one of the places where we can create wealth if we go back to the land and farm. Our land is too green for us to be hungry. It is too green for us to export agricultural jobs outside the country. Go back to the land and the farms we are creating. We will give you farm land. I will give you the support. If you put your mind to it, there is prosperity”, he said.
Listing the contributions of the Lagos State Government to food production in the country, Governor Fashola also spoke about the 4.65km network of roads in the Ikorodu Fish Farm Estate and the Poultry Farm Estate. He said that the fish farm in Odogunyan is one of the examples of the strategic intervention of the State, adding that the impact of the road constructed in the estate is already obvious in the fortunes of the fish farmers in the area. At the Erikorodo Poultry Farm Estate, the Government has intervened to give land to about 136 poultry farmers with the opening of a broiler house where 10, 000 day old chicks are processed into full chickens.
“There are so many ways in which we can intervene,” the Governor said, “we can intervene by infrastructure, by inputs, by increased budgetary allocations, innovative policies at the State, Federal and other levels.”
He added that the State Government had opened a feed mill that will serve all the farmers in the Poultry Estate. He said: “This is a fully integrated poultry estate. This is our government’s intervention to provide a breeding facility for 10,000 broilers per day, to provide also a feed mill to produce all the feed to support all the farmers in this estate. I believe there are 137 farmers here. There is also a processing facility to process all your chicks, clean them, package them, freeze them and get them ready for delivery to the market. We will walk our talk and give every support to anybody who takes farming seriously.”
More opportunities for employment abound as drivers would be needed to drive the refrigerator vans which will be used to preserve the chicken. The Governor urged all entrepreneurs who deal in refrigerated vehicles to head to Lagos where business opportunities loom.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Co-operatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal said the State Government remains fully committed to ensuring that Lagosians have unhindered access to affordable quality food and agricultural produce. He said it is based on that conviction that agriculture featured prominently at the just concluded Ehingbeti 2012 Lagos Economic Summit which focused on the PATH which is an acronym for Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing.
Mr. Lawal said the Imota Rice Mill was built with Korean Technology to the highest technological and operational standards, and can process rice which would compare with the best quality rice from any part of the world.
“We have to start to produce more rice; we cannot continue to depend on rice importation from countries such as Thailand and India. We have to start now to produce what we can eat.”
For a country that relies heavily on imports, what Nigeria needs now is a rebirth of the manufacturing industry, where we produce and manufacture what we use. Focusing on the PATH (Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing) for growth and development, the Lagos State Government has made true their words, and has taken a massive step in the right direction.
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