President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday inaugurated the 32-metric tonnes per hour Lagos Rice Mill in Imota, Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos State, South-West Nigeria, to boost the nation’s rice revolution.
The mill is promoted as a 2 x 16 metric tonnes per hour facility on an area of 8.5 hectares of land.
The project is described as having an annual paddy requirement of over 240,000 metric tonnes to produce 2.5 million bags of 50 kilogramme rice per annum.
Buhari, who landed in Imota around 5:30 PM took a brief tour of the mill in company of Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Others included Senator Tokunbo Abiru, representing Lagos East Senatorial District; the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos State, Mr. Cornelius Ojelabi; and the APC Presidential Campaign Committee Chairman, Lagos State, Senator Ganiyu Solomon.
Other dignitaries, who accompanied the President included the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya; the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Rice Initiative, Dr. Rotimi Fashola; the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa; and traditional rulers.
The President had unveiled the rice and observed a brief display of how it was being produced and packaged.
Speaking at the event, Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos State was ready to support Buhari’s rice revolution.
According to him, the Lagos Rice Mill, Imota, is part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural revolution.
“When he started his government, he said Nigeria must grow what they eat, and they should eat what they grow.
“We are happy that Lagos is the testament for that. With 2.8 million bags of 50 kilogrammes rice per annum, Lagos is ready to support rice and food revolution in Nigeria.
“The units’ rice mill will create close to 250,000 direct and indirect jobs. We want to thank the local communities of Imota in Ikorodu. We thank you all for waiting patiently.
“Mr. President is, indeed, excited that we have stated another first in Nigeria and in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.
Also speaking, Olusanya said that the mill would provide wholesome rice to Lagos residents at affordable price.
Similarly, Fashola said that the mill would perform cleaning, boiling, drying, sorting, hauling, polishing and bagging of rice, using digital, automated and latest machinery in the world.
In his contribution, the Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State and South-West Zone, Dr. Femi Oke, commended the State Government for the laudable initiative.
Oke said that farmers would continue to support the mill by providing more paddy.
The Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Raphael Hunsa said that the new rice mill would encourage farmers to produce more in the state.
Hunsa urged the Lagos State Government to continue to empower farmers with implements in order to increase paddy production to feed the mill.
“This project is very wonderful; it is a thing of joy to us as rice farmers in Lagos. I am happy that such a thing is happening in Lagos,” he said.
Meanwhile, a number of traditional rulers in Lagos have particularly applauded the Lagos State Government for the completion and inauguration of the rice mill, describing the project as a landmark achievement.
The traditional rulers include the Ayangbure of Ikorodu, Oba Kabir Shotobi; Oba Ajibade Agoro of Imota; and the Oniru of Iruland, Oba Omogbolahan Lawal.
Speaking at the inauguration, Shotobi commended both the Federal and state governments for siting the rice mill in Imota and promised that the project would be maintained by the community.
He said that the rice mill would bring enormous economic opportunities to the community and jobs for the teeming youths in the area.
According to him, the rice mill will bring great opportunity to Imota especially on employment.
“I urge our youth to stop searching for white collar jobs but focus on agricultural or study agric to increase the country’s food chain,” he said.
Also, Agoro said that the project would boost the commercial and economic development of the Imota community.
He commended the Lagos Governor for initiating and seeing to the completion of the rice mill, saying the facility would have multiplier positive effects on the community.
“I am the happiest man on earth today because it was during my reign as the Oba of Imota that this is happening.
“I am 30 years on the throne, and I am going to celebrate it with this inauguration because it is a landmark achievement bestowed on the people of Imota during my tenure.
“This plant will bring about those factors of production that will promote commercial and economic development.
“This mill is projected to create up to 250,000 jobs, just imagine the multiplying effect of such number if added to our community with their dependents,” Agoro said.
Also speaking, Lawal commended the Lagos State Government for being the first state to have a state-owned mill and the host community for providing the land.
He noted that the rice project which was first initiated as Eko Rice had contributed immensely to the state’s growth, providing jobs through the rice value chain right from production to milling and transportation.
“I am very happy for this development. I remember 2011 to 2012, when the Eko Rice started; it was 2.5 metric tonnes capacity.
“We are able to create a lot of jobs through the rice value chain.
“Today, we are on eight hectares of land optimally utilised and the number of jobs it will create is awesome; this is the biggest in West Africa,” the Oniru said.
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