***As Lagos rakes in N128m from investments in 731 days
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government has expended the sum of N20 billion out of the N25 billion initial budget for the construction of the much-awaited 32 metric tonnes per hour Imota Rice Mill in the state.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Bisola Olusanya, disclosed this on Thursday, during a ministerial press briefing to mark the second anniversary of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration in office, held in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
The Rice Mill, which is billed to be commissioned before the end of 2021, is expected to be the largest rice production in sub-Sahara Africa.
She pointed out that Kebbi rice is in upstream of the value chain while Lagos is in the downstream and midstream, saying that Lagos has the human and the market for the price production.
According to Olusanya: “The mill will help to strengthen the economic rigour of the nation and enhance economic resilience as the facility seeks to provide employment opportunities for Nigerians, through the creation of 250,000 jobs across value chain when completed, not only in Lagos alone, but across Nigeria.”
She explained that the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi States over the production of Lake Rice still intact, stressing that shipment of paddy from Kebbi state to Lagos for processing is ongoing.
She blamed the scarcity of Lake Rice on the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and heavy flooding that affected farm produce last year in Kebbi State.
“The Imota Rice Mill is referred to as Rolls Royce of its kind in sub-saharan Africa.
“We want to deliver a value chain with the best processing facility. Since its commencement, N20 billion has been spent out of the initial budget of N25 billion earmarked for the construction of the mill and looking at the exchange rate the cost is likely to be reviewed upward.
“The Rice Mill is going to be world class which is expected to kick off before the end of this year.
“On Lake rice, the partnership has shifted from processing of rice to shipment of paddy. So that we can beat down prices.
“Partnership between states should not be tenured, the partnership should be enduring.
“The idea is to bring rice at a subsidized price. We have to balance it so that we allow private sector to flourish. It is a function of how much paddy we are taking to Lagos.”
While answering question on whether Lagos has plan for its own brand on rice production, she explained that, “obviously we have plan to have our own brand, to be called Eko Rice.”
Olusanya added that, “The present administration in Lagos State has recorded 127 per cent of investment growth, representing N128 million in the first quarter of 2021 and we are still growing.
“This is possible because we have changed the dynamics of the ministry from being developmental to business-oriented.”