Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has said the unemployment rate in the state will reduce next year as no fewer than 10,000 workers will be engaged at the Niger State Rice Mill.
He spoke at the inauguration of the multi-million dollar Integrated Rice Processing and Milling Complex built by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Bida, the state capital.
He said the Rice Mill will also boost agriculture in the state with the production of 1.5 metric tonnes of rice daily.
“It is expected that the Rice Mill will generate over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, when it comes fully on stream and this will engage our youths and women as from next year,”he said.
Bello said the bumper harvest recorded this farming season was a result of the policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration aimed at repositioning agriculture as the mainstay of the economy and to ensure national food security.
He, however, called for caution on the export of essential farm produce to neighbouring countries for monetary gains, saying that such ventures may expose the country to food insecurity.
The governor said plans were underway by the state government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to buy off the major food items and store them to ensure food security.
“The development was in fulfill-ment of my pledge to explore all avenues to attract investors and projects to the state, especially through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives. The state Ministry of Agriculture will ensure the proper management of the rice mill by engaging competent hands to manage the facility,” he said.
The Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Noh Kyu-Duk, said the gesture was informed by Nigeria’s huge potential, the comparative advantage of cultivating rice and becoming self-sufficient.
Kyu-Duk noted that the non-availability of high rice production capacity was the major obstacle of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production in Nigeria.
The KOICA’s Country Director, Mrs Sook Hyun Park said the project, which started in 2008, can process 1.5 tonnes of rice per hour with parboiling, drying, sorting and packaging facilities and can be increased to three tonnes per hour.