Rice farming has become the in-thing in most states of the federation now, as more and more states even the private sector players are keying into the production to ensure that the country is self-sufficient in this staple food.
To be counted and rated as one of the states doing well in rice production in the country, Lagos State is putting efforts to ensure that it become one of the leading states in rice cultivation and production.
The state which is planning to commence operation at its 32 metric tonnes per hour Imota Rice Mill in December is making every arrangement to ensure that the mill does not lack paddy when it fully commence operation.
To ensure that the mill gets paddy steadily some rice farmers were trained on Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) so as to increase their yield and get clean and better output for regular supply of paddy to the mill.
Otumu Adeniyi, a rice farmer from Obada area of Lekki said Lagos is expanding its horizon in rice production and if the state starts championing rice, the way it is doing now, there will be no more LAKE Rice, but Lagos rice which will be nationally acceptable.
“We have land, let it be known that Lekki local government or Epe as a whole can produce rice that will feed Lagos state especially in Obada area.
“We have over 2600 hectares of land in Obada Island and if the government is ready to take that opportunity to have a minimum of 300 hectares to produce rice before we know it, Lagos will be producing what the West Africa sub region will be feeding on,” he added.
Also, Segun Atho, National Deputy President of the Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN), said that the Lagos state government has started something good and important in the history of the state.
He said at the end of the day the farmers will be more beneficial as they will be able to end hunger, improve their capacity, increase their production and live a better life.
He , however, called on the government to assist the farmers with implements such as swamp buggy, swamp dozer and tractors stressing that without these implements, farmers will not be able to do much as expected.
Dr. Olayiwole Onasanya, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, stated that no matter how much rice the farmers produce there is a market for their product, as he said that mill alone have the ability to create more jobs even for the farmers.
He said with the adoption of technology, more people will be employed and the farmers’ standard standard of living will be improved.
“Lagos must do more rice than other states even in the whole sub region. With the rice mill importation of rice will be totally avoided, and the issue of our foreign exchange; spending over N356million every year to bring rice into Nigeria will be a thing of the past as the money will be used for other things like health infrastructure and the likes.
“It will encourage our farmers to produce more. To our farmers this is a wake-up call for you, the Mill has been built for you so that you can produce more and improve your standard of living,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kehinde Joseph, Chairman, Lagos State House Committee on Agriculture called on the contractors handling the Imota Rice Mill to hasten work on the project in order to meet the December 2020 completion timeline, when he led other member of the committee on an inspection tour and oversight function to the mill.
He said that the committee was overseeing the project to ensure that percentage of work done so far was commensurate with the money released so far by the state government.
He said there was the need for the mill to start operation adding that by the time the rice mill start functioning in December, it would collapse the prices of local rice especially which presently hooves between N20,000 and above.
“We have gone round to see how far they have gone in respect of the rice mill in Imota. The percentage of work done so far is one of the reasons why we are here today to see things for ourselves.
“Thank God, with what we have seen, it is not too bad but what matter most to us is that we want the completion timeline to be met. We are being told that hopefully by December, this Mill will start functioning.
“About two or three months ago, the Acting Commissioner for Agriculture told us when she visited this place that the percentage of work done so far was 80 per cent or 85 per cent and with the level of the money that has been released to them, I believe they should be able to finish the job before the end of the year.
“That is why I want to call on the contractors to hasten the job because by the time the Rice Mill starts functioning, hopefully by December, it is going to collapse the price of local rice especially in Nigeria.
“That was what LAKE Rice en the state government introduced it then in 2016/2017. You can see now, an average price of the local rice in Lagos now, is around N20,000 and don’t forget that in December we have Christmas and New year, a period when the demand for rice goes up thus it is going to assist our people if we complete the Mill by the December dateline,” he said.
Abisola Olusanya, Acting Commissioner for Agriculture,noted that no fewer than 250,000 job opportunities would be created from the input aggregators, providers, farmers, logistics and service providers, marketers and distributors along all the entire value chains in addition to the ripple effects of the project on the locality among others.
“This mill is going to be a job generator and a wealth generator. We believe that with the partnership of everyone in this locality and the State at large, we will start reaching our food security status goal of making sure that no Lagosian is hungry, zero poverty and also to ensure that there is gender equality and everyone is happy,” she said.
Olusanya explained that already her Ministry is working closing with the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure as well as the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to do a triangulation of the area in order to ease traffic movement among other things.
“We have in this axis, the Imota rice mill, the Imota Regional Market and at the Agbowa axis, the Housing Development Scheme coming up around here, therefore, a triangulation is being done to see if another access road can be constructed to ensure that we do not impede the flow and movement of people on the roads that we have existing already.
“We will also explore the waterways as well to ensure that going forward; we do not put so much pressure on our roads. A lot also is actually being done at the Ministry of Water Front Infrastructure around how we can increase the use of our waterways.
“I believe that a holistic solution will be proffered around the issues we have currently in Lagos especially as regards logistics of goods,” the Acting Commissioner opined.