As part of her efforts to ensure food sufficiency in the state, Akwa Ibom State Government yesterday stated that it has perfected plans to push not less than 160,000 metric tons of long grain rice into the local and international markets.
The long grain rice was unveiled during the State Executive Council (EXCO) Meeting presided over by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel at the Council Chamber, Government House, Uyo.
Emmanuel disclosed that the state government went into rice cultivation and production to meet with its target of crashing the price of staple food in the market, adding that in no distant time, at least, 80% of food consumed in Akwa Ibom would be produced within the state.
The governor applauded the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency and the Technical Committee on Food Sufficiency for setting the direction of crashing the price of rice just as it has attained impressive reduction of the price of garri in the market.
He noted that the state is blessed with suitable climate to utilise and meet the demand of consumers.
“This is not a drawing board, this is not a concept, it is something that is done and tested. This is grown in Akwa Ibom, processed and bagged in Akwa Ibom State”, he said, adding that the rice mill will be inaugurated on July 11.
Giving some background into the state’s in breakthrough in rice production, the Chairman, Technical Committee on Food Sufficiency, Professor Edet Udoh, recalled that the State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to partner Agricon Company on the project in July 16, 2016 and commenced production by May, 2017.
Udoh said the long grain rice takes about 120 days to mature from the time of planting to harvesting, noting that the turnover of160,000 metric tons was realized as against the initial target of 176,000 metric tons and attributed the shortfall to heavy rainfall.
He disclosed that 10,000 bags of 50kg was already on the ground to hit the market soon, assuring that with the increase in yield at the nearest future, the state government would realize its target of crashing the price of rice in the market.
Dr. Uduak Udo-Inyang, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, who presented several bags of the rice at the EXCO meeting, said that the rice factory commenced production on a 600 hectares of farmland at Ini Local Government Area, last year, expressing hope of replicating it in Uruan and Okobo Local Government Areas.
Udo-Inyang explained that the initiative was a Public Private Partnership (PPP), between the State Government and Agricon, indicating that the name, Ibom Agricon Rice Factory was derived from the merger and added that further information about the Mill would be provided during the inauguration.
Assuring on the quality of the rice, the Agriculture and Food Sufficiency boss said: “We are giving rice that can compete internationally, but our target is to make sure that we feed our people first and foremost before we think of exporting”.
Speaking with Government House Press Crew, shortly after the meeting, Mr. Charles Udoh, the State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, said the meeting was basically to review the performance of the administration in all sectors, within the last three years, maintaining that the evaluation was necessary to note the achievements and gaps while deliberating on ways for improvement.
Udoh who was flanked by his Agriculture and Science and Technology counterparts said: “Today was a recap. In every establishment, in every management process, when you take a step forward, you need to also look back to see what you have done well and what you need to do better to ensure that the people maximally receive the benefits of democracy”.
He recalled that the scorecard of the present administration in the last three years was published and presented during the third-anniversary celebration, acknowledging that the report has attracted applause and commendations on the landmark achievements recorded by the administration despite challenges of the recession.