By Obinna Chima
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; Governor of Anambra, Mr. Willie Obiano; his Kebbi State counterpart, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu and the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, were among the dignitaries that unveiled Coscharis Farms’ N12 billion ultra-modern rice processing mill.
In an address he delivered at the rice processing mill located in Igbariam, Anambra State yesterday, Emefiele reiterated the bank’s commitment to partner with the private sector to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
According to Emefiele, the fact that Coscharis Farms Limited was able to commission the rice mill, was an attestation to the fact that the objectives of the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari towards diversifying the Nigerian economy and creating jobs through focused intervention in critical areas was yielding results.
“We must also commend the determination and doggedness of Coscharis Farms to establish not only its Rice Farms but also the Processing Mill which will process not only its paddy rice, but also those paddies produced by local small holder farmers under our Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Emefiele pointed out that despite the challenge of flooding faced by Coscharis Farms last year, the company has kept to its repayment plan, saying a total of about N800 million had been paid so far.
“This was notwithstanding the challenging flooding incidents suffered by the project that led to the CBN granting moratorium and tenor extension to the project twice, we thank Coscharis Farms Limited,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, the President of Coscharis Group, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, said even though the vision to establish the farm was conceived about three decades ago, it was five years ago that he decided to pursue the vision of going into actual farming and keyed into the federal government agenda of de-emphasising importation and ensuring food sufficiency in the country.
“We started with a land in Anaku that was abandoned for so many years because of the peculiar terrain which is prone to flooding. Despite challenges in mechanised farm development, I can tell you today that we will soon cover the entire about 3000 hectares of land that Coscharis Farms Limited currently own in Anaku.
“We also have plans for smallholder farmers in our surrounding communities to provide training, inputs under the out-grower scheme in cooperation with NIRSAL and other agencies.
“The plan to build a rice processing mill is motivated by our desire to fix a problem. We want to create more jobs and also want to build skills in the region.
“We want to process paddy harvested from our farm in Anaku into best quality rice. We want to contribute significantly to the government’s efforts to ensure food sufficiency through local production of rice. In addition, we want to set the pace for production of best quality local rice that will cause our people to change their preference from imported rice to locally milled rice which is known to be rich with important nutrients.
“Rice is the most popular staple food consumed by every household in Nigeria and the country is the highest consumer of rice in the West African sub region and the second largest importer in the world, buying at least 2 million Metric tons per annum. Today, we have commenced the journey to accomplish these goals.
“Coscharis Rice Processing Mill, Igbariam is a 120,000 MT modular ultra modern Rice Mill and this is the first phase with 40,000MT/annum capacity. The processing mill has come to stay in order to improve the quality of life of ndi Anambra as well as the economy of the state and Nigeria in general. The next phase of 80,000MT/annum will come on stream before the end of next year,” he added.