Lagos State Government has concluded plans to release additional 20,000 bags of Eko Rice for distribution to various designated markets for the period of Yuletide in the month of December.
The state government, while saying that 20, 000 bags had earlier been released in the month of November, added that the number represents 10 percent of the total requirement of rice consumption of over 25 million estimated residents.
Special Adviser to Governor Bababjide Sanwo-Olu on Agriculture, Dr. Oluwarotimi Fashola, disclosed this on Wednesday, during an inspection tour of the Lagos Rice Mill, in Imota, Ikorodu, in preparation for the Yuletide festivities.
The Lagos Rice Mill, in Imota is an agricultural plant in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos, Nigeria.
It is located on 8.5 hectares of land in Imota area of Ikorodu.
It was built in 2021 and expected to commence full production in the first quarter of 2023, according to Governor Sanwo-Olu.
Also, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, assured that the Imota rice mill would be inaugurated soon.
The Lagos State government had signed a funding agreement with the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) to raise US$ 216M from investors to reinforce the Imota rice mill operations in a bid to exploit its capacity.
However, it was gathered that the sum of N300 billion had been expended on the construction of the facility so far.
Imota mill was then commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari early year 2023 as the country aimed toward self-sufficiency in rice production.
The ultra-modern mill, the largest in Africa and third globally has a production capacity of 32 metric tonnes per hour with an overall storage capacity of 40,000 tonnes.
The mill is operated by Wacot Rice Limited, a subsidiary of the investment holding company Tropical General Investment (TGI) Group, and is expected to produce around 2.5 million 50 kg bags of rice per year under the “Eko Rice” brand.
According to Fashola, “The rice mill initiative has an annual need of more than 240 000 tons of paddy to fully exploit its capacity.
“If we don’t have enough paddy rice which is our raw material, all the equipment and infrastructure we have at Imota will be useless.
“Thanks to the state Governor’s support in partnership with Commodities Exchange, we can maintain the flow of paddy to the mill.
“Lagos is the largest consumer of rice in Nigeria. Lagos consumes 40m bags of rice annually. On a daily basis we have about 25 million people and each person consumes on a yearly basis about 50kg so we can start breaking it down to what a person consumes in a year.
“We produce 10 percent of what Lagos consumes. We are hoping to go to 20 percent but right now we produce 10 percent.
“If you look at that in proportion to the state you can see that we can only do as much and that is why we are saying that you go to this market, go to that market and get it.
“We cannot flood all markets in Lagos. So if you go to Ikorodu, Daleko, Ketu you will get. If you go to Imota, if you want to buy a bag, you can buy.
“We will improve distribution as time goes on but that is what the situation is right now.
“When I see increase distribution, I means increase visibility to outlets. So they have more distribution outlets for example, we may say we zone out Lagos and say Lagos Island here but remember it’s not Government distribution so somebody in Lagos island says I want to buy this rice and go to supply in Sura and we can say go to Sura Market to get this rice.
“Here in Imota that sells Eko Rice. Same in Ikorodu but is it everyone in Ikorodu that knows? No.
“We need to understand the dynamics of our population vis-a-vis distribution so when you talk about flooding, this means wherever you go, you find it. It is impossible.
“But right now we have Eko Rice in the market. Yulitide is coming and people are expecting and want to go to a corner shop and get Eko Rice.
“We need to manage that ego. It’s reality, let’s be frank, you cannot get to every corner shop and get it. You can go to designated places and buy.
“But in this Christmas period, we are trying as much as possible that the product is limited to Lagos as much as possible.
“From November to date we have about, give or take, 20,000 bags. Between now and Christmas, we hope to have another 20,000 bags going out.
“We want to distribute it within the state as much as possible.
“A 50 kg will cost about N43,000 per bag, while 25 kg will cost about N22, 000 per bag.
“In our own little way, we will do more about informing the people where to get it. Go to the designated places to find it.
“When we started, we noticed a lot of things. We noticed that some people bought our rice and moved it out of the state.
“We also noticed that some people rebagged our rice into foreign bags. Overtime we have been able to kind of adjust that.
“We are not doing this alone, we are working in partnership with commodities board When we noticed something, we tell commodities that xyz has done this and for this reason, we need to change the tactics and that is why we are selling to more people with serial numbers.
“You cannot come back to say you want to buy 50 trucks, we won’t because we know that they can be manipulated.
“So right now if you want a truck or two, yes you can, one bag each, yes you can and we are monitoring what is going on.
“We can’t be everywhere but as much as we can we are monitoring where do our rice go to. This year our rice was as far way out at Port Harcourt and at Benin.” (Vanguard)