NIGERIA – The Ondo State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with an agro-allied firm, Africa Red Crest (Nigeria) Limited, for the mass production of rice through the cultivation of 500 hectares of land and the establishment of a rice mill with capacity for 37,500 tonnes per annum at the Owena Dam area of Akure, the state capital.

At the signing of the MoU, the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, explained that the project would bring about large-scale and mechanised production of rice and related activities in the state.

He stressed that the government remained committed to promoting food production and agro-allied activities in the state, especially ventures that would lead to sufficient availability of food and job opportunities for residents.

The SSG described Africa Red Crest as an expert in the mass production of rice, using the black soil farming system.

“Upon the cultivation of 500 hectares in the first two years, there will be a later acquisition of further 7,500 hectares of land and the establishment of a rice mill simultaneously for the processing of 37,500 tonnes of rice per annum in Ondo State,” Adelola said.

The SSG disclosed that the project, which will cost over N4.9bn, would be fully funded by the company, while the Ondo State Government would only provide land for lease for 20 years.

He, however, noted that if the company failed to start work on the land within one year, the government might terminate the lease agreement.

In his own remarks, the Coordinator, Directorate of Public Private Partnership, Mr. Nekan Olateru-Olagbegi, said that with the full operation of the project, the state would be one of the biggest producer of rice in the nation by the middle of this year.

He gave an assurance that the government would assist the company in the acquisition of necessary facilities as well as guarantee the security of the technicians and skilled farmers who would work on the project.

Responding, the Managing Director, Africa Red Crest, Mr. Aladenoye Akinloye, said in the next few months, the company would employ at least 250 residents of Ondo State, while local farmers would be trained and regularly patronised to boost local production of rice in the state.

Commending the government for the support, Akinloye expressed the company’s preparedness to immediately develop and operate the project for the benefits of the state.

January 14, 2017;