The Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has unveiled the “Confluence Rice”, a locally made rice in the state, saying the development was in line with the agricultural revolution programme of the government.
He said with the move, Kogi state has joined the class of rice producing states that were striving to make the country achieve food sufficiency.
Speaking at the unveiling of the rice in Lokoja, the state capital on Saturday, Bello said the agricultural revolution that led to the production of the Confluence Rice was in line with the economic diversification agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
According to him, the agricultural policy of the federal government that the state had been implementing had given the state the capacity to produce good quantity of rice that would be enough feed the entire country.
Bello noted that an important measure that had helped Nigeria out of the mess the past administration left for the country was the decision to be self-sufficient in food production, stressing that the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) government that handed over power to President Buhari mismanaged the economy to recession.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, he met an empty treasury. He went cap in hand to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to withdraw money and he was told by the Governor that there was no fund. President Buhari asked them about what happened to the money that was made over the years; they said it was expended on the importation of fuel and food.
“The President disputed the allusion because more than 90 per cent of Nigerians from the north to the south produce what they consume. In effect, not all Nigerians can afford to buy packaged beef or pepper beans and some of these imported food items. It means what we consume majorly can be produced in Nigeria”.
The Governor said what the President did to salvage the Nigerian economy was to encourage agricultural production in Nigeria, saying it was “the only thing that guarantees food security, jobs and wealth creation”.
Bello however scored his administration high in the area of agricultural revolution as it had in less than two years in office unveiled the Confluence Rice in the interest of the people of Kogi and the entire nation.
“It means that Kogi markets and markets in the ten states that share boundaries with our state, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will be flooded with Confluence Rice. I don’t need to make much noise in the media; our rice is the best and the cheapest in Nigeria,” he said.
Bello lamented that the efforts of the state in rice production was not felt in the past because agriculture generally was neglected by the PDP governments in both the State and the federal levels.
“In the past, what we produced here in Kogi was bought and taken to Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu, Lagos and some other states and milled into Lake Rice and all that. Now we are producing our own rice in Kogi because it is our policy to utilise the resources of the state for the benefit our people, especially the downtrodden who cannot afford to buy the agricultural product from the market,” he said.
The commissioner for agriculture, Kehinde Oloruntoba, said the agricultural revolution in the state was unprecedented since its creation in 1991.
Oloruntoba said 50, 000 ton per day milling factory would be inaugurated in Yagba west local government area of the state to boost rice production in the State as from the first quarter of 2018.
“It was as if we were not doing anything, because other states were buying our rice at cheaper rates for milling, but today, with the efforts of the Governor, as from the first quarter of next year, we will have the capacity to mill our own rice,” he said.