By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI—IN order to contribute its quota towards ensuring food security of the nation despite the country’s dwindling economic fortunes, the Abakaliki Ricemill Owners Industrial Association said it has concluded arrangements to partner 19 states in the distribution of Abakaliki rice across the country.
The rice which has been proven to be highly nutritional to the body and qualitative in outlook is set to regain and retake its position in both national and international markets as it is now being repackaged and thoroughly refined for the delight of all and sundry.
This is the vision of the Governor David Umahi-led administration in partnership with UNIDO and the current leadership of Abakaliki Ricemill Owners Industrial Association.
In a chat with South East Voice, the Chairman of Abakaliki Ricemill Owners Industrial Association, Hon. Deacon Joseph Ununu said forms would soon be available for the ‘distributorship’ of the rice, so as to reduce the surge by customers to the state and create wider market for it in the country.
According to him, anybody who meets the requirement would be confirmed as a distributor of Abakaliki rice in different states of the federation.
“We have gone beyond the period of selling for retailers alone; it is better we have distributors that would represent us in different states with big warehouses carrying the inscription: ‘Abakaliki Rice Depot’ in that state, so that people that love the rice will be going there to buy rice; there will be no need for people to come here just to buy one bushel of rice”.
On the proposed relocation plan by the state government, the Chairman who stated that the rice millers were ready anytime to obey the directive of the state Governor thanked him for giving a human face to the policy by establishing a new rice mill for them at Iboko in Izzi local government area of the State.
“The latest development is that the present administration and the State House of Assembly reached a resolution that the Mill here in Abakaliki relocates to Iboko in Izzi Local Government Area of the state. We as the subjects of the government after looking at it critically, we discovered that the order had a human face.
“Now the reason I said the present administration has a human face is because Governor David Umahi handed over a digital rice mill built by UNIDO in collaboration with the state government to the people of Abakaliki Rice Mill Association not only to manage but to own.
“This current Rice Mill in Abakaliki will serve as Rice Mill market, so that after milling at the new site, you come here in your individual shops to sell and even if you are from Lagos, you will come to buy as many as you want. So here will serve as Ebonyi Rice Market where you will come and buy assorted types of rice for consumption.
“The Governor is someone who knows the business very well and he thinks what he will do for his people and not what they will do for him. Governor Umahi started by giving us a bigger Mill.
“We have started producing there and if you go there the rice we produce is very clean; perfectly clean. It is an efficient Mill and the Mill has been handed over to us. The Governor plans very well before executing.
“The agreement we made with the Governor read Abakaliki Rice Mill Owners Industrial Association that owns the Mill. For now no time frame has been fixed yet for the relocation; parcelation of the land has not been done; building we are going to use has not been put in place but we are ever ready any day the Governor said we are to move, we will move along with him”.
Ununu who explained that the rice was produced and bagged in three categories enjoined consumers of the rice to visit Ebonyi Rice market for a well packaged and refined Abakaliki rice.
“Abakaliki rice still remains the best and still stands the test of time, especially now that we have gone into customized packaging. Today, we have the one we call Abakaliki Rice Gold, which is the first grade of our rice; we have the one we call Abakaliki Rice Superior which is the 2nd grade of our rice; we have the Abakaliki Rice Premium which is the third grade of our rice.
“So, all these products are all in stock; the new mill the Governor has handed over to us has aided in boosting rice production both in standard and quality.
“I advise Nigerians to keep patronizing us; come down for your christmas rice or another thing you want to do with rice even though you want it in trailers”.