The Federal Government’s diversification programme yesterday received a boost, with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo commissioning Africa’s largest parboiled rice mill in Argungu, Kebbi State.
The over N10 billion state of the art WACOT Rice Mill, which is privately owned, is capable of processing over 120,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice annually.
Speaking at the commissioning, Prof. Osinbajo said that the project underscored the policy of the government that the private sector must be the engine of economic growth and sustainable job generation.
He noted that the project had proved that the country could actually feed itself.
The Acting President urged Nigerians to consume what we grow; stressing that the agriculture policy of the Federal Government is to empower the largest number of farmers and encourage young ones.
Speaking on the importance of the rice mill to the government diversification policy, Osinbajo said: ” This Mill is important for several reasons: The first is that it is the policy of the FG that it is the private sector that must be the engine of devt. It is not just the private sector leading growth, but the growth must be growth with jobs, it cannot be jobless growth we have seen a lot of jobless jobs.
“But one of the critical things we are seeing today especially with the growth of agriculture is that this is growth with jobs, several thousands of our people are farming and are engaged in farming. I spoke to the MD earlier on and he was saying that in this coming year they are expecting to be engaged with 50000 farms and that is the kind of private sector led growth that we want to see.
“The second is that the president laid out in the budget of scheme of 2016 that we must grow what we must consume what we grow, it is up to us to grow what we eat.
“This is a landmark achievement here, it is a signal to the rest of the countries that Nigeria is not just opened for business but it is set for development.”
The Group Managing Director of WACOT rice mill, Mr. Rahul Savara, hinted that the company had a plan of investing further over N100 billion over the next years in various agricultural value chains.
He noted that so far, over 5,000 small-holder rice farmers had been trained on good farming practices, financial management, production cost optimization and yield enhancement techniques.