Akwa Ibom Long Grain ‘Family Rice’ Hits Market
The Akwa Ibom State Government has recorded another giant stride in food sufficiency with the production of 160,000 metric tons of long grain rice for local and international consumption.
The ‘Family Rice‘ was presented during the State Executive Council Meeting presided over by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, on Wednesday at the Council Chamber, Government House, Uyo.
Governor Emmanuel said that the feat was in line with the state government’s 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 from the state.
He expressed delight that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency and the Technical Committee on Food Sufficiency have been able to set the direction of crashing the price of rice just as it has attained impressive reduction of the price of garri in the market, stressing that the state is blessed with suitable climate to utilize 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“, Gov Emmanuel stated, hoping that by July 11, the rice mill would be inaugurated.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Technical Committee on Food Sufficiency, Prof. Edet Udoh, indicated that the State Government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to partner Agricon Company on the project in July 16, 2016 and commenced production by May, 2017.
He disclosed that the long grain rice takes about 120 days to mature from time of planting to harvesting, noting that the turnover of 160,000 metric tons was realized as against the initial target of 176,000 metric tons and attributed the shortfall to heavy rainfall.
Prof Udoh further disclosed that 10,000 bags of 50kg was already on ground to hit the market soon, assuring that with increase in yield at the nearest future, the state government would realize its target of crashing the price of rice in the market.
The Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Dr. Uduak Udo-Inyang, 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.
Dr. 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 that the Mill would be provided during 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”.
In an interview with Government House Press Crew shortly after the meeting, the State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, said that the meeting was basically to review 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.
According to Mr. Udoh, who was flanked by his Agriculture and Science and Technology counterparts, “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 recession.
On his part, the Commissioner of Science and Technology , Dr. Nse Essien, said that his Ministry, in partnership with International Business Machine, IBM, was set to offer Information and Communications Technology, ICT, training to 10,000 indigenes of the state, mentioning that participation is open to every Akwa Ibom person irrespective of background.
Dr. Essien noted that the Akwa Ibom Oil and Gas Training Center, which was inaugurated recently, was established to cater for the development of capacity in the oil and gas sector to ensure maximal benefits from the abundant natural resources in the state, assuring that discussions are ongoing with investors for the development of Ibom Science Park.
By Evelyn-A. B. Ibanga