The Bank of Industry and other local investors have injected N1.56 billion on two rice mills and farms promoted by the former Minister of Industry/ President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Engr. Charles Ugwuh.
The 42,000 capacity Tara Rice Mill and its subsidiary 1,200 hectares of rice farm are located at Adani, Uzo Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu state, while the first one is in Abakaliki with a capacity of 30,000metric tonnes; the combined capacity being 72,000 metric tonnes.
BoI Managing Director, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa justified the financing, saying “This project is very unique in the sense that it is not just a rice mill, he also has a 1,200 hectares of rice settlement and the whole idea is that they plan to increase that to 5,000 hectares, so the sourcing of the paddy that will be required by the rice mill is guaranteed.”
He noted that to turn the country from a major importer into a net exporter of rice is part of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda.
“So a lot of things are happening and it is hoped that at the end of the day, Nigeria will significantly reduce the amount of money spent importing food. Already the expenditure on processed food has reduced from $6.9billion in 2009 to $4.3 billion currently. We believe that in the short-term, at most medium term, we should be in the position to not only eliminate food importation completely but actually ensure that Nigeria can be a net exporter of food items,” he said.
According to Charles Ugwuh, the Tara mill had been tested, fully established and producing rice of high quality with capacity to mill 42,000 tonnes of paddy per year or about 30 tonnes of paddy per day.
“The value of the mill at cost is N1.56 billion out of which BoI has provided N840 million and the local investors ploughed in the rest.
There are about 200 people who work here directly and then about 4,000 farmers who contribute the paddy that keeps the mill running. The quality is excellent, Nigeria produces good quality paddy that does not get to stay in the silo for years and so we mill current paddy that is produced within the locality. We have a very good and nutritious paddy.
“Can you imagine what it would be if it were to be 10, 000 hectares producing a huge volume of paddy and massive job opportunities for farmers? This is the way forward for Nigeria and if you do it for 30 or 40 mills scattered across the country, Nigeria will be going forward. If we can increase the level of paddy production and the quantity of rice that we mill in the country, it will be good for Nigeria. However the major challenge still remains infrastructure,” he said.
He commended the state government for having done quite well in the provision of link roads to the farms and mill but added that more can still be done in terms of providing power and water to the mills and farmlands.