Gains Of More Rice Mills In A'Ibom
Agro-processing industries play important roles in driving agricultural revolution in a society.
That was why the inauguration of the Ibom Agricon Rice Processing Mill, a subsidiary of Ibom Agricon Farms Limited, at Asanting Utit Ikpe in Ini Local Government was a welcome development.
The inauguration of that 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.
In 2016, Akwa Ibom State government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the commencement of the factory, with the capacity to process about 1.5 metric tons of rice, with private investors on 60,000 hectares of landmass.
The vision was to key into the philosophy of the Udom Emmanuel government to feed its people and ensure stability in the market price of stable food in the state. The resolve is to ensure at least 80 per cent of staple food consumed in Akwa Ibom are produced in the state.
Now that the mill is operational, Akwa Ibom people have a lot to benefit from it. Apart from further boosting the industrialization policy of the state government, the mill is vital to the agricultural and food sufficiency sector, even as it provides employment for youths.
The premium long grain rice processed at the mill form a greater percentage of long grain rice consumed in the state.
Another import of the mill derives from the fact that it has brought the hope of the state government's presence to the people of Ini Local Government after several promises by previous administrations since 1999.
There is also hope that several other factories would soon be sited in the area. To enhance this, the Emmanuel-led administration restored to the area electricity supply that was stalled for many years, with a promise to inaugurate another phase of electricity project this year.
In more than three years, the 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. It has provided enabling environment that attracts investors on public private partnership arrangement for industrialization.
The government should ensure the expansion of the mill's capacity to accommodate the desire for more opportunities as well as ensure that the products are steadily available for Akwa Ibom people and their neighbours.
With the zeal with which rice farmers in the state have put into the staple and their quest to make Akwa Ibom to take the lead in rice production in Nigeria, it became necessary to have more rice mills in other rice producing areas in the state to assist the farmers.
This dream is being realized as more mills are being established in the state. The latest being the Etieno Multi-purpose Cooperative Rice Processing Mill in Ibam Ukot in Ini Local Government, which is among the latest mills donated by the Federal Government to assist rice farmers in the state.
There is no doubt that the mill with capacity to process about 800 kilogrammes of rice, farmers would no longer have difficulties in processing their rice, while the additions would encourage them to go into commercial cultivation of rice in Akwa Ibom.
It is expected that households and traders would be offered quality rice and packaging, while well-trained personnel proficient in rice processing should be maintained to serve as role models to new entrants in the rice agricultural business. Above all, the quality and standard of the commodity must be maintained to meet the expectations of the people.