One of the things Nigeria is working hard towards is to become self-sufficient in rice production. Rice is a staple food in the country with a general acceptance among all ethnic groups. Successive governments have pooled resources into agriculture. However, it appears their goal is within eye view. Africa’s first vitaminized rice mill has just been established in Cross River State. The phenomenal project is in the city of Ogoja in the southern part of the country.
Lauding Governor Ben Ayade for the landmark vitaminized rice mill was the immediate ex-governor, Liyel Imoke. Imoke was in the company of Governor Ayade to inspect the installation of equipment at the facility. According to the governor, the mill will create employment as well as increase rice production in the country. In a speech, the ex-governor said,
“This is a phenomenal project that speaks volume of the governor’s vision, not just the vision but the timing of a project of this nature. It makes economic sense, as it will create employment, increase rice production and make Cross River a hub for rice production in this country. I love the location and this can capture all the rice in the central and north, and ideally situated in terms of access to the market.”
Interesting inclusions in the vitaminized rice mill
Incorporated into the vitaminized rice mill are various state-of-the-art technologies. Aware that Nigeria faces a perennial power problem, it was important to include an alternative source of power. Running on diesel will scale up the operating cost. Consequently, the government of Cross River State is working with a team of engineers from Germany to install solar power. Governor Ayade said,
“We have a team here from Germany who is working to make the plant [the vitaminized rice mill] run fully on solar, two megawatts of power and two megawatts of battery storage. So, day and night it will run without recourse to diesel. [However] if you want to run on diesel, it means you will be operating at a loss and that is why the team is here with me from Germany. They have been tested and proven in the industrial park in Calabar. So, we want to extend that and have them to do this plant.”
The role of the Central Bank of Nigeria in the project
Sometime in November 2016, Governor Ayade admitted that the state has obtained N3bn loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). However, the loan was through CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme. According to the Governor, the mill will minimize waste by converting broken pieces of rice into children cereals. Further explaining the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme and the benefits of the mill, Governor Ayade said,
“The programme is aimed at upgrading small farmers to commercial farmers. The 78,000 farmers that we will be working with, will have the benefit of processing all the rice they will harvest at the mill.”
Currently, there has been a tremendous decline in the volume of rice imports into the country. The government continues to provide incentives to farmers including subsidized fertilizers. However, adding a vitaminized rice mill to the picture is worth an accolade.
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