By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA- RICE production has received a further boost in Anambra State with the commissioning of JOSAN Integrated Rice Farms and Mills located at Enugwuabo, Ufuma in Orumba North local government area of the state. It is expected to add 90 metric tonnes of rice to the existing 250 metric tonnes currently being produced in the state.
Following the encouragement of the Anambra State government, the state had become investors’ destination for rice production with the result that the popular Anambra Rice has become a household name in the country.
Governor Willie Obiano, at the commissioning ceremony, boasted that agriculture, one of his administration’s cardinal programmes, had made great impact within three years of his administration. He recalled that at the time he assumed office on March 17, 2014, Anambra was producing 80 metric tonnes of rice annually, but is producing 250 metric tonnes.
He said that since JOSAN would be producing 90 metric tonnes, the state’s 300 metric tonnes annual consumption requirement would be surpassed by 40 metric tones this year. Obiano said that when the chairman of JOSAN Rice Farms and Mills, Chief Oliver Okeke indicated interest in investing in rice production, he did not take him serious until he passed through all the processes required by the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Production Agency, ANSIPA, which led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with his company.
Chairman of ANSIPPA, Igwe Enweze of Umuoji described JOSAN as the largest integrated rice farm in the South East, adding that the company will be producing rice all year round with irrigation from a nearby river.
Igwe Enweze said the state’s share in the project is 10 percent, while the investors have 90 percent. Three percent of the profit would go the host community for corporate social responsibility. He also said that the project has already created 130 direct and 410 indirect jobs, while 7000 direct and 10000 indirect jobs would be available when it is fully completed.
According to him, the farm is developing 15 hectares of irrigated rice farm, with 331 rice farmers and 2000 out growers of riceworking there on daily basis.
“What Governor Obiano has been doing in agriculture has made the state very visible in Nigeria’s agricultural sector,” the royal father said.
Chairman of JOSAN, Mr. Oliver Okeke said he was happy to have heeded the call to invest in agriculture, especially as it is touching on the lives of many people in the society.
He said: “We are excited that we will now be engaging and investing in the rural areas of Nigeria, bringing them development and creating jobs. For us, this business is much more than just about making money. It is a business where we see ourselves touching the lives of people in the rural areas, empowering them, bringing food to Nigerians and still creating value by strategic value chain investments.”
He recalled that when there was a problem of power for the investment, the governor promised that the power would not just be for the company as an agriculture processor, but would be extended to the two local government areas of Orumba North and Orumna South which had remained without electricity for years, noting that the availability of power supply was one of his greatest joys.