The Ogun State Government has launched its locally produced rice, known as Ofada rice, with a market price of N11,500.
While formally unveiling the rice produced and bagged in Ogun at the Asero Market in Abeokuta on Thursday; the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said the rice production would boost food supply, reduce dependency on imported ones while the mill would create jobs for farmers in the state.
The rice, named Mitros Rice, packaged in 50kg bags, was produced at Egua land in Yewa South Local Government Area of the state, but the processing and packaging facilities are sited in Asero area of Abeokuta, the state capital.
Mr. Amosun said the rice farmers in Ogun would no longer need to travel far in search of milling facilities.
He lamented that one of the biggest tragedies of the nation was her dependence on food imports to feed the population in spite of the abundant arable land and labour force.
“This has weighed heavily on the nation’s economy as it exerted pressure on foreign reserves and value of the naira with attendant needless outsourcing of agricultural work to distant countries,” Mr. Amosun stated.
“For us in Ogun State, we cannot afford to sit back and watch our people suffer unnecessarily due to food insecurity. The availability of food is synonymous with the survival of the society as a whole.
“Our past efforts at tackling poverty in all ramifications will amount to nothing if concerted efforts are not taken to ensure food security to people at all income levels. This is why today is a significant day, not just for Ogun State, but for Nigeria as well.
“The MITROS Rice Mill, the first of its kind in Ogun State, will create jobs for our farmers. From now on they will no longer need to travel far and wide in search of milling facilities.”
The governor further said that with the mill, the farmers would not only benefit from high-quality processing of their output, but also enjoy guaranteed off-take.
“This not just about the commissioning of a new processing factory and all its benefits, processing capacity, direct and indirect jobs, economic growth, and so on, it is also about the unveiling of a new narrative for Ofada rice,” he said.
“The new and improved Ofada rice that this mill will produce will not only feed our people, but we are confident that it will generate foreign exchange for us, as a nation.”
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, lauded Ogun State for the feat and noted that the CBN would give credit facility to farmers at five percent interest as part of Federal Government’s strategies to increase food production and self sustainability in the country.
He pointed out that when farmers were assisted with credit facilities at one digit interest rate, Nigeria would be able to provide food for the people, jobs for the youths, conserve foreign exchange and grow the economy.
“A country that does not take agriculture seriously is naturally an unserious country,” said Mr. Emefiele. “I am happy today that under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, we are taking agriculture very seriously and that is the reason we at the Central Bank of Nigeria have made it a responsibility to say we would continue to support any effort and anybody in an attempt to grow our agricultural sector.”
He noted that with the local production of rice, the country would no longer be spending foreign exchange to import agricultural produce. “We would eat what we produce and we would produce what we eat,” the CBN governor said.
The Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Commodities and Agricultural production, Abubakar Bagudu, in his remarks, said Nigeria was capable of producing 50 million tons of rice per annum.
“All the 36 states of Nigeria have the capability of producing rice even of course the FCT. With rice, I believe we can achieve what we have achieved even with a commodity like crude oil, because around the world, about 600 million metric tons of rice is produced every year, and Nigeria, we are still producing a little less than 10 million,” he said.
“Our land size estimated by the Rice Farmers Association indicated that there are about 12 million rice farmers. This suggests that even if an average yield per farmer is the modest 5 tons, we should be producing 50 million tons, not under 10 million tons we are currently producing.”