The Lagos State Government has assured that the 32-metric tons per hour Rice Mill in Imota, Ikorodu division, will be ready for inauguration in 10 weeks.
Ms Abisola Olusanya, the state Commissioner for Agriculture gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos.
According to her, the contractors have started testing running the mill.
NAN reports that there are 16 silos in the mill with a combined capacity of 40,000 metric tons, each having 2,500 metric tons.
The mill was built with a capacity to produce 2.8 million bags of 50kg bags of rice yearly while generating 1,500 direct jobs and 254,000 indirect jobs.
Olusanya said that the Special Adviser to the Governor on rice, Dr Rotimi Fashola, would ensure the completion by July.
”We are commissioning by June/July or the end of July. Within the next 10 weeks, that place will be ready for commissioning.
”The special adviser is working towards that and they were still there yesterday and they have started test running.
”Paddy is already there. we have rice paddy. Thousands of tons are there. I can’t ascertain the figure but what I know is that the silos are being filled right now with paddy.
”They are already tested running the equipment. Anybody is free to go to Imota, the Special Adviser is there.
”You can just request, and you will see that within the next 10 weeks that place will be ready for commissioning,” she said.
She also spoke on whether the mill would crash the increasing cost of rice in Nigeria, adding that such could only occur if the government was in full control of production, processing and marketing.
The commissioner also said that although getting the paddy at a cheaper price might crash the price, the security challenge in parts of the north also posed a great challenge.
”You expect a crash when you are also experiencing value chain from the production itself up to processing and marketing; when you are in full control.
”Right now, we are in just the processing part which is the middle labour.
”If the price at which paddy is being procured is not low enough to crash it except you’re asking for a subsidy which is not sustainable.
”Subsidy is not a sustainable route to go, so the best thing is getting the paddy at a cheaper price.
”Which means that back in the north, how suitable is the environment for them to actually cultivate and grow rice.
”If right now, there is a lot of issues in the north which border around banditry and all of those things, it is going to affect a lot of people that can actually farm.
”It is going to affect the quantity of paddy they can get and obviously if there is a scarcity of paddy itself as raw material, prices will be jacked up.
”So it is not just about the price of rice going up, it is a function of security.
“If the farmers don’t feel secure up north, you have more of them coming down south to do other things.
”It means you have fewer farmers, you have less paddy, and it means the little that is available the price is going to be high,” she said.
The commissioner urged the westerners, South-West states to wake up and get back into agriculture as a full-time business and cultivate commercial size agriculture.
”Rice price is not all about a function of just rice as in commodity, it is a function of food generally and security issues happening in the north
”This is because the south is so dependent on the north when it comes to food, it’s just a matter of time Southerners have to wake up.
”The westerners, South-West need to wake up, we have to get back into agriculture as a full-time business.
”We have to go into commercial size agriculture not small old farm agriculture that we are doing that we are really not seeing the impact.
”In the north, they do commercial-size farms and they own commercial-size farms; down here in the south, we are not doing so much of that and that one needs to change,” Olusanya said.