The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has given a boost to agriculture in the Niger Delta region by reviving its six tonnes per hour rice mill at Elele-Alimini, in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Speaking after inspecting the multi-million-naira mill, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, said that the facility, which it leased to a private firm, Elephant Group, would create more job opportunities for youths in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer, who was represented by the Commission’s Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Doodei Week, said the facility would also provide employment opportunities for youths in the region and create more opportunities for farmers to reap from their produce.
He said “It is expected that a minimum of 5,000 out-grower farmers would be supported through NDDC intervention to provide the needed input, which is the rice paddy for the mill. It is a revival of the agricultural sector in the Niger Delta region, using the rice value chain as an option.
“The NDDC places emphasis on partnerships. We have already sought viable collaborators, such as the CBN and the state governments. We will also work with communities and smallholder farmers.
“Funding will come mainly from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor-Borrowers Programme, while land will be sourced from the communities, especially rice-growing communities. The Agricultural Development Programme, ADPs, in the states will also provide extension services to the farmers.”
He noted that the rice mill in Elele-Alimini was constructed, completed, test-run and technically commissioned in 2008. He remarked that because the Commission placed a premium on the partnership, it leased the mill to a private concern to run for sustainability and efficiency.
He explained: “The lease is for 20 years and it started on September 1, 2017. It is expected that by 2026, the lease agreement would have run its full course.
The Administration and Station Manager of the Elephant Group, Mr Olabode Ojo, explained that the resuscitated rice mill was an integrated milling facility comprising several sections, including boiler, parboiling, colour sorting and bagging machines.
He said: “We started test-run of the station in January 2020 and we are continuously growing the capacity of the mill. We can mill up to six tonnes per hour when we get a steady supply of paddies. We expect that by September this year, we would have an adequate supply of paddies to enable us to produce at full capacity.