WACOT Rice Limited has said that it intends to increase its rice milling capacity in Nigeria to 500,000 metric tonnes per annum in the next few years in order to reduce Nigeriaâ€™s dependence on imported rice.
This was disclosed by the Group Managing Director of the TGI Group, the parent company of WACOT Limited Mr. Rahul Savara, , during the official opening of the WACOT Rice Mill located in Argungu, Kebbi State, by the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Osinbajo was accompanied during the visit by the Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, 23 members of the Progressive Governors Forum, and other dignitaries from both the public and private sectors.
Welcoming the guests, Savara stated that the quality of rice being produced at the mill is comparable to the best in the world. The current phase of the Rice Mill, he further disclosed, has a production capacity of 120,000 metric tonnes per annum and fully automated silos that have the capacity to store raw materials for up to six months of production.
The state-of-the-art rice mill with a capital outlay of over N10 Billion capable of processing over 120,000 metric tonnes of paddy per annum is also expected to generate direct and indirect employment for 3,500 people and its procurement of rice paddy will reach out to at least 50,000 local farmers, as the capacity grows.
He commended the federal government for its various initiatives in support of agriculture through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other mediums, which has impacted the growth of the sector positively, and has also served as a motivation for private sector players in the sector.
â€œTherefore, for us this is just the beginning. We have plans to invest over =N= 100 billion over the next years in various agricultural value chains.â€
It is worthy of note that the rice processing plant is the first rice mill to be conceptualised, executed and commissioned during the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The construction of the mill was first announced by the Governor of Kebbi State in November 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Central Bank of Nigeriaâ€™s Anchor Borrowers Program in Birnin-Kebbi. Work started on the mill in February 2016 and has now commenced operations.
WACOT, Nigeriaâ€™s leading Agri-business conglomerate, contributes to achieving Nigeriaâ€™s objective of food self-sufficiency with significant investments in seed multiplication, out-grower farming, food processing and distribution.
Conducting dignitaries round the factory after the official opening, the Managing Director of WACOT Ltd, Mr. Ujwalkanta Senapati, drew the attention of the guests to the large stock-holding of paddy in the factory. According to him, the paddy was purchased from local farmers who have been part of the companyâ€™s out-growers scheme.
Senapati further explained that WACOT â€œsees farmers as partners with whom we work together to improve agricultural production.â€
In his remarks, Osinbajo commended the TGI Group for supporting and investing in the food security vision of the federal government.
He also disclosed that the federal government will be working with the private sector, giving them the necessary incentives and creating an environment for them to invest and do business.
â€œThis mill is important for several reasons. Firstly it underscores the policies of the federal government that it is the private sector that must be the engine of development. The private sector being the engine of development is not just having the sector grow but the growth must be growth with jobs the development we are talking about is growth with jobs. We have seen a lot of jobless growth in some sector of the economy with a lot of revenue coming in but with very few jobs.
With this Rice Mill, Several thousands of our farmers have been engaged in farming, this is a growth with job and the Group Managing Director has assured that in a couple of years, they expect to have engaged 50,000 more farmers. This is the kind of private sector led growth that we want to seeâ€, the acting President added.