Federal Government has donated two rice-processing mills to Lagos State, to boost the Lagos-Kebbi local food production initiative, from next year.
A major component of the collaboration between Kebbi and Lagos is rice production, to be known as Lake Rice, with the target to bridge Nigeria’s rice import gap by at least 70 percent.
Nigeria’s domestic demand for rice is recently put at 6.3 million metric tons, but the country produces only 2.3 million metric tons annually, leaving a supply-demand gap of 4 million metric tons, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Under the agreement, Kebbi, which is blessed with vast arable land, will do more of the rice cultivation while Lagos, which consumes about 798,000 metric tons of milled rice per year, would do the milling at its rice plant in Imota, Ikorodu.
The mill is presently undergoing capacity upgrade from 2.5 to 10 metric tons per hour. But as a show of commitment to the agreement, both states, Wednesday, in Lagos unveiled bagged rice brought in from Kebbi to fulfil an earlier promise by Lagos to sell rice this Christmas at subsidised prices of N12,000 for 50kg, N6,000 for 25kg and N2,500 for the 10kg bag.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode alongside his Kebbi counterpart, Atiku Bagudu, who unveiled the Lake Rice in Ikeja, Wednesday, told journalists that the initiative had received the support of the Federal Government with a donation of two rice mills in Lagos.
“Today is an historic day for Lagos and Kebbi states. In March 2016, we signed an MoU with an understanding that we, being proudly Nigeria, want to come out with what is made in Nigeria and what is good in Nigeria.
“Lake Rice is of good quality. The major difference between Lake Rice and the ones imported is that the imported has a minimum five to six years life span, but Lake Rice is fresh,” Ambode said.
Bagudu, on his part, said the partnership confirmed both states’ commitment to the agenda of making Nigeria a big market in Africa.
“I am proud of this joint venture. We can do more with other commodities like cocoa, soya beans and sorghum, and I am very glad that we are launching the Lake Rice today,” Bagudu said.
BusinessDay reported yesterday that the Lake Rice would be sold in selected locations across the five divisions of Lagos – Epe, Lagos Island, Ikorodu, Badagry and Ikeja.
Members of a committee set up by the government to handle the process would attend to prospective buyers who will pay to bank officials stationed around the sale centres, before collecting tellers to collect one bag per buyer.