The Lagos State Government has attributed the sudden disappearance of the Lake rice to the disruption of COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s devastating flooding, which wreaked havoc on rice plantations in Kebbi and other northern states.
The Lagos-Kebbi Rice christened Lake rice was an initiative borne out of the collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi State Governments. During the launch, held at the Lagos House, Ikeja, Lagos on December 21, 2016, the former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and his Kebbi State counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, said the partnership which culminated in the launch was not only designed to ensure food security, but to showcase the ability of Nigeria to become a rice-producing nation.
But three years of seamless record of providing the rice for Lagosians was broken last year, as the brand disappeared from the market. The Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, during a ministerial briefing to commemorate the administration’s second year in office, said Lake rice is still in existence and will resurface soon.
“It is not that Lake rice is missing to the extent that it will not surface again. Lake rice is still in existence. I think we need to go back to a lot of things that happened last year. Lake rice was available last year January and February, COVID-19 hit us in March and subsequently we had issues around flooding, particularly in Kebbi.
“The impact of the flooding was grave on rice farms in the state. So, it is not so much about why it is not available, it is a function of why in the producing state there were so much issues of production and supply, for them to process and send to us,” she said.
Olusanya said the partnership with Kebbi is an agreement meant for the state to have access to rice looking at what Kebbi State is able to produce, especially paddy rice. “Kebbi is the number one producer of rice in Nigeria, so it only makes sense for Lagos to partner with the state to get processed rice.
“But part of the agreement also is that if Lagos State is setting up its own rice mill, the agreement is going to shift from receiving processed rice to receiving paddy rice for us to process in our mill. So, it’s not that the partnership has been terminated.”
She announced that once the state mill in Imota, Ikorodu is completed, the state would have its own brand.
The Commissioner explained that the 32 Metric tonne per hour capacity integrated rice mill under construction is the biggest in Nigeria and in West Africa and at full capacity is capable of producing approximately 2.4 million (50kg) bags of rice for the over 22 million people in the state and for Nigerians as a whole.
According to her, the mill will further create employment of approximately 267,580 jobs in the state at different stages of the value chain, reduce cost of rice locally, enhance food self-sufficiency and revenue generation in the state and the country at large, as well as, ensure a sustainable supply of wholesome rice at an affordable price to the people in Lagos and its environs.
She further stated that in anticipation of the completion of the mill and to boost the farming activities of rice farmers, the state Government trained and empowered 800 rice farmers with preferred high yielding Farrow 44 seeds, brand new, high quality knapsack sprayers, rain boots and farm coats as a strategic intervention.
Olusanya said in the last two years, the state has trained 12,574 and empowered 19,207 youths and women in key agricultural value chains such as fisheries, poultry, rice and horticulture.
She said the training was based on the need to encourage more youth and women participation in agriculture, as well as to curb the problem of women and youth unemployment.
“If the Lagos State is to succeed in her goal of attaining food security and self-sufficiency status of 40 per cent by year 2023, the need to train more youths who would readily take over from the aging farming population cannot be over emphasised.
“The administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is overtly committed to growing the state’s agricultural sector and ensuring that the state is less dependent on other states for the production of food. As a result of this, the state has continued with the empowerment, training and capacity development of the youth and women, especially in selected key value chains such as fisheries, poultry, rice and horticulture,” she said.