Kogi Government on Wednesday said its Confluence Rice Factory, Omi, would be inaugurated in March as part of efforts to join leading rice-producing states in the country.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba disclosed this at the maiden edition of the state Ministerial Media Briefing in Lokoja.
The briefing was at the instance of the state Bureau for Information Services and Grassroots Sensitisation in collaboration with Kogi council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Oloruntoba said that the state is one of the leading rice producers in the country but was never acknowledged by relevant authorities and institutions.
“We are one of the highest rice producing states in the country with Ibaji, Idah, Bassa, Girinya, Ofu, Omi and other rice-producing areas but the state is always missing from the list of rice-producing states in the country.
“We established a 50-metric tonnes rice mill at Omi in Yagba-West Local Government of the state.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) is also complementing that effort by installing another 50-metric tonne capacity rice processing mill at Ibaji.”
He said that ISPO confirmation and other administrative bottlenecks delayed the take-off of the Omi mill but assured that it would be commissioned before the end of March, this year.
On the inauguration of the confluence rice on December 23, 2017, the Commissioner said the rice was cultivated at Omi rice farm, harvested and was taken to Star Milling Company, Offa, Kwara State for processing.
“That does not make it Offa rice. We should remember that this is a pilot project and we need to keep faith with the promise made by the governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to float the Confluence Rice before the end of December 2017.
“We had an arrangement for the milling of the rice. The rice was not repacked. All the activities on production were done in Omi except the milling.
“Whatever we cannot do, we will not say”, he said, adding that about 4,500 hectares of land had been devoted to the production of rice.
He added that 1,000 hectares of the land would be strictly devoted to modern rice cultivation and processing deploying the modern technology.
“The people will be encouraged to start their own rice farms and they will be supported with starter packs.
“Before March 31, the rice mill industry in Omi will be commissioned,” he said.