By Dipo Olowookere
The Ekiti State government and its Lagos State counterpart have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the cultivation of rice.
Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, confirmed this development on his Twitter page on Thursday.
According to him, his government will provide land for the rice cultivation, while the Lagos State government would provide the funds and expertise.
This development follows a similar deal signed between Lagos State and Kebbi State on the production of LAKE Rice few years ago.
The move was applauded then by many Nigerians, who challenged other state governments to look at ways to work together to boost their respective economies.
“Ekiti government has signed an MoU with Lagos State government on rice cultivation.
“Land [for the project is] to be provided by the Ekiti government while Lagos government [will] provide fund and technical expertise,” Mr Fayose disclosed today.
Rice is a staple food consumed by many Nigerians, but it is unfortunate that the country relies on importation of the commodity to meet local demands.
Since the inception of this present administration, there have been efforts to stop importation of rice into the country.
Few days ago, federal government threatened to close a border with a neighbouring country over the smuggling of foreign rice into Nigeria.
“Our other problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing.
“They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.
“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut, we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy.
“You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the internet.
“Let me tell you why we need to shut the border, I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones, if you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials get into the rice,” the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, had told youths in a leadership clinic under the auspices of Guardians of the Nation International in Abuja.
In March this year, Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, had said he was determined to ensure rice importation in Nigeria became a thing of the past.
This he said he was doing by aggressively investing in the rice sector by laying a foundation stone for the construction of a multi-billion Naira rice processing mill in Hadin, Jigawa State.
According to him, the plant will in one year process paddy rice worth N14 billion bought directly from the famers in Jigawa at market rate.
Recalling that the Dangote Rice limited started the outgrowers scheme in 2016 with thousands of hectares of land in Hadejia, Jigawa state, creating over 10,000 jobs (direct and indirect) to farmers, the business mogul said with the new ultra-modern mill enough paddy rice will be grown and harvested for processing.
Last year, WACOT Rice Limited, a member of the TGI Group, commissioned its newly built rice processing mill with 120,000 metric tonnes capacity in Argungu, Kebbi State.
In August 2017, Managing Director and CEO of First Bank of Nigeria, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, claimed Nigeria imports nearly a shipload of rice every week despite the nation being one of the most agriculturally fertile countries in Africa.
Business Post recalls that in November 2017, Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, had said the importation of rice into Nigeria had significantly dropped from 644,131 Metric Tonnes to about 21,000 MT between September 2015 and September 2017.
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