NIGERIA – Nigerians have welcomed the opening of a new state-of-the-art rice processing factory, Gerawa Rice Mills Limited, in Kano State, established by industrialist, Alhaji Gerawa at a cost of N15 billion (US$36m).

The ultra-modern facility, with a processing capacity of 420 metric tones per day was unveiled by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele.

The CBN boss applauded the Chairman of the mill for propelling government sustainable policy on food security and providing job opportunities.

He further assured of the apex bank’s readiness to support the private enterprise to grow the economy through the government’s rice revolution initiative which is yielding tremendous positive impact with over 750 per cent increase in local production.

“Before the Anchor Borrower Initiative in 2015, the country has less than 10 integrated rice mills with combine capacity of 350 metric tons. Today, we have over 60 integrated mills with capacity of 3 million metric tons,” Mr Emefiele said.

Gerawa Rice Mills joins a band of mills currently operating in the West African nation and keeping with the federal government’s commitment of safeguarding the country’s food security.

To further ensure the sector attains self-sufficiency, Mr Emefiele asked rice mill operators to get involved in paddy cultivation as part of a cooperation with the Nigerian Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN) to ensure a long-term supply.

“As we increase the milling capacity of rice nationwide, we are encouraging all rice mills to embrace our backward integration programme, and get involved in paddy production to guarantee sustainable supply of paddy to your mills and complement the supply from smallholder farmers through our partnership with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria.

“The private sector-led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme provides long-term financing options to millers to finance commercial farms, land development, irrigation facilities, and other agriculture infrastructure that will enhance the production plan,” he said.

On his part, Chairman of Gerawa Rice Mill, Alhaji Gerawa, explained that the new facility will provide over 15,000 direct job opportunities.

He applauded the support of the CBN and other financial institutions such as Fidelity Bank that supported the actualisation of the facility that aimed at enhancing the economic viability of Kano and Jigawa states.

Nigeria seeks to attain rice self-sufficiency in a bid to reduce the import bills and meet the high demand of the commodity locally.

Although, Mr Emefiele believes the country’s local production is still below expectation considering the potentiality.

According to USDA, Nigeria’s rice consumption in 2021/22 is projected to reach 6.6 million metric tonnes, against production of 5 million metric tonnes of milled rice.

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