The Food sufficiency goal of the Federal government is receiving a major boost in Kebbi state through the collaboration between WACOT Rice Limited and the Kebbi state government.
The food sufficiency journey started sometime in June, 2016 when President Muhammadu Buhari, announced in a Ramadan meeting with members of the business community that his administration would make the country self-sufficient in rice production within 18 months.
The President was obviously not satisfied with the fact that the country was still importing food in the face of a foreign exchange crisis and Nigeria being Africa’s largest consumer of rice, devours about six million metric tonnes of rice annually which is mostly imported from India, Thailand and Brazil.
The president submitted that Nigeria should be able to produce what it eats and export its excess.
14 months after his declaration, the President’s dream is gradually becoming a reality through the establishment of WACOT Rice Mill in Argungu, Kebbi state which will produce 120,000 metric tons annually and 400 metric tons of rice daily.
The multi-billion Naira Rice Mill situated in Argungu, Kebbi State, is the largest of its kind in Africa. It was commissioned by the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the 1st of August, 2017.
Commending WACOT during the official commissioning of the Rice Mill the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said that the establishment of the Mill “underscored the policy of the Federal Government that it is the private sector that must be the engine of development. But the private sector being the engine of development is not just the private sector leading growth. The growth must be growth with jobs; it cannot not be jobless growth.
“We have seen a lot of jobless growth, especially around the oil economy with a lot of revenue coming but a very few jobs. “One of the critical things that we are seeing today, especially the development of agriculture, is that this is growth with jobs. Several thousands of our people are farmers and are engaged in farming”.
The success of the establishment of the WACOT Rice mill is not without the support of the state government and especially Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the governor of Kebbi state.
No doubt Governor Bagudu is one of the strongest believers of the Food security initiative of the federal government and this is evident in the massive success his administration has recorded in the area of rice production much to the envy of other states like Kwara, Ondo, Kastina, Ogun who have shown interest in the state’s agricultural policy.
On how Kebbi has been able to achieve this feat, the governor disclosed recently that on assuming office and discovering the huge rice potentials in his state, he immediately partnered with the Bank of Industry and the Central Bank of Nigeria and to show his commitment, he put down a princely sum of N4 billion as financial assistance and inputs to rice farmers in the state to go into commercial farming. He pointed out that with the capital outlay and the agreement it entered into the with the BOI, his administration also designed a template where each farmer agreed to produce at least six tons of rice per hectare of land after being given a minimum of N210,000 per hectare to cover farm inputs and seedlings.
About WACOT Rice Mill
The integrated Rice Mill has about 10 silos with the capacity to store 18,000 tons of rice paddy and warehouses for storing an additional 12,000 tons of rice paddy. The mill is stocked with machines from world renowned machinery suppliers like Buhler, Petkus, SKF, Thermax and Silos Cordoba and includes a fully equipped lab to test all parametres for ensuring consistent quality of its rice products.
Built with the economics of the environment in mind, it is expected to generate electricity from husk (the hard protecting coverings of grains of rice), thereby ensuring that all by-products from the processing are well-utilized. It will generate 1 MW of electricity via turbines to reduce dependence on the national grid. It also has a fully equipped water treatment plant that takes care of its liquid waste before they are discharged into the community, where they can be safely used for irrigation.
WACOT Limited is the first company to do an Out Growers Model and Farmers Assistance Scheme with cotton farmers in Katsina. The success of those programmes has helped the company to become one of the largest producers and exporters of cotton in West Africa. WACOT has its ginnery (Continental Eagle) in Funtua, Kastina State and has a capacity for over 50,000 metric tons of seed cotton per season.
Now, the company is extending its expertise to increasing yields among rice farmers in Argungu and beyond, since more farmers need to increase their yield if the country is to meet its self-sufficiency target. Although the building of the mill only started in February 2016, since 2013, WACOT has been engaging with farmers via two training schemes: the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Yield Enhancement Techniques (YET). The company has worked with over 4,000 farmers and distributed inputs – high quality seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals – worth 144 million naira.
Economic Impact of the Rice Mill on Argungu
The Argungu community is already beginning to witness economic transformation as a result of the establishment of the Rice Mill; more jobs are flowing in with over 3,500 people engaged as well as new businesses which built around the mill.
According to the Managing Director of WACOT Limited Mr. Ujwalkanta Senapati, WACOT has completed several humanitarian projects in the community. “We have renovated a school and a hospital and have organized health camps with free consultation and medicines to over 1,000 farmers. We’ve always had the aspiration to implement positive change,” he said.