In more than three years, the Udom Emmanuel administration has engaged in various agricultural programmes in line with its drive to feed the people of Akwa Ibom and ensure food security in the state. To achieve this vision, it has provided enabling environment that attracts investors on public private partnership arrangement for industrialization.
In line with this drive that Gov Udom Emmanuel in 2018 took the decision to invest in the cultivation of rice in commercial quantity through land clearing and other forms of support to the farmers such as soft loans, provision of inputs and road infrastructure.
With the zeal with which rice farmers in the state put into the staple and their quest to make Akwa Ibom take the lead in rice production in Nigeria, it became necessary to have rice mills in rice producing areas in the state to assist the farmers to process their produce.
The clearing of large hectares of land by the Ministry of Agriculture in Ibiono Ibom, Uruan, Ini and other local government areas of Akwa Ibom for rice cultivation, complemented with the inauguration of rice mills by government at Asanting Utit Ikpe in Ini Local Government Area and the Etieno Multi-purpose Cooperative Rice processing Mill in Ibam Ukot, among others, such as the installation of 1.5 metric tonnes of rice processing mill in Ikot Esen in Ibiono by the Federal Government were viewed as a welcome development.
Today, apart from further boosting the industrialization policy of the state government, the mills are vital to the agricultural and food sufficiency sector, even as it provides employment for youths.
Suffice to say that the inauguration of the 1.5 metric tons Agricon rice mill by Gov Udom Emmanuel, the first in Akwa Ibom and the commencement of services had put to rest series of lies and propaganda of a non-existing rice mill in the state, while repositioning the state for large scale rice production.
On its part, Etieno Multi-purpose Cooperative Rice Processing Mill, with capacity to process about 800 kilogrammes has helped rice farmers overcome the difficulties hitherto encountered in processing their harvested rice.
So far, government support to rice farmers in the state and investment in commercial rice production to ensure food sufficiency in the state is yielding positive results.
From the premium long grain rice processed at the Ibom Agricon Rice Processing Mill in Ini Local Government, it has given birth to the very recent unveiling of another brand of made-in-Akwa Ibom rice, christened the Ibom Golden Rice at the Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, by the commissioner for agriculture and women affairs, Dr Glory Edet.
Ibom Golden Rice is a product of the combined efforts of members of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, in Ibiono Ibom Local Government, who cultivated 2,500 hectares of farmland with rice with the assistance of the local government administration.
The chairman of Ibiono Ibom deserves commendation for cooperating with members of RIFAN in Ibiono Ibom in the cultivation of rice in commercial quantity, in compliance with Governor Emmanuel's Dakkada philosophy.
The 1.5 metric tonnes of rice processing mill in Ikot Esen could not have been put to optimal use by rice farmers in Ibiono Ibom Local Government but for the cooperation of the council chairman, Mr EkomAbasi Akpan.
It is hoped that the production of Ibom Golden Rice would encourage other local government chairmen in the state to close ranks with their chapters of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, in the commercial cultivation of any crop that thrives well in their areas to boost food sufficiency in the state.
Efforts should be made to ensure the expansion of the mills' capacity to accommodate the desire for more opportunities as well as ensure that the products are of high quality and steadily available for Akwa Ibom people and their neighbours.