Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, thursday reiterated his commitment to restore the glory of Ekiti as a rice-producing state by fast tracking the commencement of rice mills operations in the state.
Fayemi stated this while receiving feedback from the Managing Director of Popular Rice Mill (PRM), Mr. Amit Rai, on the assessment of the land allotted to the company to establish a rice mill factory in the state. PRM is a subsidiary of Stallion Group.
The group is one of the industries the state government has entered partnership with in setting up rice mills in the state. Others are Dangote Farms and Jumlar Rice Limited.
He said: “I am sure that you would have been reading in the media that we are also attracting other mills to the state. It doesn’t really threaten your own efforts. For us we know that you have unique skills that you are bringing to the table.
“We must also encourage our local players that they have a place in the sector. Your initiative is not at risk in any way, we believe that all of these initiatives we are bringing together are for our people.
“Even In the olden days Ekiti used to be a rice producing market for the entire Western Region and then we lost that. We are trying to regain it and accelerate it in the shortest possible time and that is where you come to assist us and I am confident that we will work well with you and we will achieve this together.
“With more jobs at hand for our people, it will reduce misery and poverty in Ekiti in a much more sustainable manner. We want investment that will empower our people and make them have a sense of self-worth. I hope that before this year runs out we will come to the point of commissioning.”
Fayemi boasted that Ekiti farmers had the capacity to produce enough paddy that would sustain the mills all year round. “I am glad we have gotten to a point where you can do assessment and have come closer to your own decision whether to go ahead with this or not. Every evident before me clearly shows that you will have to (set up the rice mill) because you get virtually everything you need in Ekiti both in terms of commitment and organising our farmers to produce enough paddy for you to be able to run the mill all year round.
“I think they would be assisted in terms of input, extension services, you could even be able to expand the home grown scheme in such a manner that we can have enough. I think the latest statistics I saw is that we have been able to produce almost 350,000 in Ekiti. We have the capacity to even double that and by the time we work with you and your team, I have the belief that we would even be asking you for more than twelve tones per hour mill,” the governor said.
Mr. Rai explained that the company has integrated agricultural operations in rice mills, which encouraged paddy cultivation and promotion across the country.
He assured that the company would train farmers in paddling cultivation and also provide high yielding seedlings that would lead to production of high quality paddy when the mill commences full operations in the state.
In his remarks, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Investment, Trade and Innovation, Mr. Akintunde Oyebode, explained that the company’s initial estimate was to set up 12 tons per hour mill in the state. “From initial discussion we had with them in Abuja, they have done a business scale that shows that rice production here will be profitable, what they are left with is to come and do site assessment to select a favourable location for the mill. We have done that and I believe we have found what we consider a location that meets high technical assessment and they will come back with a more technical team to do survey and ensure that they can start the process of siting a new mill,” Oyebode said.