Nigeria can’t continue to import rice again, such Era is gone for good – Governor Ambode

Nigeria can't continue to import rice again, such Era is gone for good - Governor Ambode
Read the
press statement below.. 

In
line with the persistent calls for a paradigm shift from over dependence on oil
as the major earner of the country, the Lagos State Government and Kebbi State
on Wednesday entered into a partnership on the establishment of a commodity
value chain that will give a quantum leap to food processing, production and
distribution.
The partnership is aimed at bringing about national food
sufficiency and food security, as well as creating employment and wealth
distribution for the benefit of both states and the nation in general.
Speaking at the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) between the two states held at the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Ikeja,
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the partnership signaled the commencement of a
new beginning of cooperation and common-sense revolution, which is line with
the change mantra of All Progressives Congress (APC) that calls for patriotism
in all facets of life. 
Governor Ambode, who said the partnership would bring an end to
the era of imported rice in the country, noted that there was no doubt about
the economic prowess of the country to produce rice locally.
“This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that two States
are collaborating to develop their agricultural potentials. We have the
economic prowess to produce rice locally. The era of imported rice is gone. The
reality is for all of us to embrace the consumption of local foodstuff and
commodities,” he said.
The
Governor acknowledged the fact that the future of Lagos is partly tied to
deliberate resolution on food security, and that food production and
self-sufficiency required immediate attention at policy and strategic levels to
sustain the country, hence the need for the partnership.   
“Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in
Nigeria by virtue of our State population. We have the market, with the
required purchasing power also. Lagos State has an estimated consumption of
over 798,000 metric tonnes of milled Rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96
million of 50kg bags, with a value of N135 billion per annum,” he said.
In addition to rice, Governor Ambode said Lagos is presently
consuming 6,000 herds of cattle daily which may increase to 8,000 in the next
5years, adding that the bulk of vegetables produced in the country eventually
end up in the Lagos markets. 
He added: “Lagos State is one of the largest producers of poultry
and thus has a large demand for maize for livestock feed production. The State
also houses most of the industrial users of wheat and sorghum; mostly flour
mills, bakeries, breweries and food manufacturers.
“Kebbi State, on the other hand, is blessed with a vast arable
land suitable for the cultivation of Rice, Wheat, Ground nut, Maize, Sorghum
and Sugar cane. 
“It is an agrarian State with over 1.2 million hectares of arable
land characterised by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes.
In the 2014 / 2015 wet season, over 600,000 Hectares of land was deployed for
Rice cultivation in the three senatorial areas of the State. 
“The people are traditionally Rice farmers with average land
holding of about 10 Hectares. Presently, Kebbi has over 50,000 metric tonnes of
paddy in store produced from the last 2 planting seasons.
“With these considerations in mind, Lagos State and Kebbi State
have decided to collaborate and exploit our areas of comparative advantage to
create value for both States. This alliance will ensure Food Security, job
creation, increase in farmers’ income and the overall improvement in the living
conditions of the residents of both states through wealth creation and poverty
reduction.
“This collaboration is in line with the clarion call and policy
direction given by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on the need to feed
ourselves,” Governor Ambode stated.
The joint venture between the two states, Governor Ambode
explained, will be implemented using a Special Purpose Vehicle known as LASKEB
Agricultural Production and Marketing Company (LAPMCO), adding that the major
areas of focus will be the development of commodity value chains with emphasis
on Rice, Wheat, Ground Nut, Onions, Maize/Sorghum and Beef.
Speaking further on the agreement, Governor Ambode said: “The
numerous thousands of our market women and men can become key employers of
labour as distributors of ‘Ibile Rice’. We can also brand and package rice in
the names of our distributors and market women. As a State, we shall adopt our
local rice as a State dish in all ramifications.
“The special purpose vehicle will allow the entrance of private
sector investors and other states in expanding the rice mill at Imota, Ikorodu
and other locations. We have already designated the 100 hectare land at Imota
as the Agric Park in the State. Other locations in and outside the State will
be vigorously activated to fulfill our mission in record time.”
Also speaking at the event, which was attended by top government
functionaries, traditional rulers and members of the Organised Private Sector
(OPS) from both states, Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu thanked
Governor Ambode for providing leadership and innovation that brought about the
partnership, adding that same was in line with the effort of President Buhari
and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to restructure Nigeria away from
overdependence on oil. 
 
Governor Bagudu said in the world of genetically modified food,
the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi was an additional motivation to provide
certainties for the people in terms of food production and sufficiency, and
that the goal is to produce 60 to 70 percent of Nigeria’s Rice needs, and
replicate same in other food items.
He said the agreement had the broadest public acceptance in Kebbi
State, and that the people, especially farmers in the state, are delighted to
partner with Lagos, which he described as the most entrepreneurial part of
Nigeria.   
He said Lagos and Kebbi have had a long history of trade, and that
the signing of the MoU was a further way of cementing the relationship with the
view to make the people to get richer.
“Lagos is the most entrepreneurial part of Nigeria. Lagos, if it
were a country on itself, is a country that other states will be going to
establish a relationship and so why not state to state. So, what we are doing
is that we are pioneering a collaboration that will bring other states on board
later and we believe that our potentials is enormous and we must have
pacesetters to start that process of joint collaboration for our collective
good,” Governor Bagudu said.
SIGNED
HABIB ARUNA
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
MARCH 23, 2016

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