Following the recent ban by the Nigeria Customs Service on importation of rice through land borders across the country, the Lagos and Kebbi State Governments, on Wednesday, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which is expected to produce 70 per cent of Nigeria’s rice demand annually. The Memorandum of Understanding between Lagos and Kebbi State on the development of Commodity Value Chains, was signed at the State House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
With the era of rice importation gone, the both states are optimistic they possess the economic prowess to produce rice locally. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos said the future of the State was partly tied to deliberate resolution on food security, adding that Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in Nigeria by virtue of its population.
Lagos state has the market, with the required purchasing power and has an estimated consumption of over 798,000 metric tons of milled rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96 million of 50 kilogramme bags with a value of N135 billion per annum. He also said that food production and self-sufficiency required immediate attention at policy and strategic levels to sustain the state.
Ambode acknowledged that the ceremony was to formalize an agreement between Lagos and Kebbi States to enter into a partnership for food processing, production and distribution. Gov. Ambode believes the reality is for all Nigerians to embrace the consumption of local food and commodities. In addition to rice, the state is presently consuming 6,000 herds of cattle daily which may increase to 8,000 in the next five years.
According to the Lagos state Governor, the bulk of vegetables produced in the country end up in the Lagos markets. The state is one of the largest producers of poultry and thus has a large demand for maize for livestock feed production, and also houses most of the industrial users of wheat and sorghum-mostly flour mills, bakeries, breweries and food manufacturers.
For Kebbi State, Ambode said it is blessed with a vast arable land suitable for the cultivation of rice, wheat, ground nut, maize, sorghum and sugar cane. It is an agrarian state with over 1.2 million hectares of arable land characterized by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes.
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Both states are embarking on a joint venture to feed the people, establish commercial enterprises, create employment and wealth distribution for the benefit of both states and the country in general. Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, disclosed that the goal of Lagos-Kebbi partnership on food production was to produce 60 to 70 per cent of Nigeria’s rice needs, and replicate same in other food items.
Bagudu explained that in the world of genetically modified food, the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi States was an additional motivation to provide certainties for the people in terms of food production and sufficiency. According to Gov. Bagudu, both states have had a long history of trade, and the signing of the MoU was another way of cementing the relationship with the view to making the people richer, adding that Lagos is the most entrepreneurial part of Nigeria.
The signing of the MoU by the two states is ascribed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration policy thrust to diversify the country’s economy and feed its citizens. The agreement, which principally centres on boosting the production of wheat, ground nut, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, cows among others, is the first state-to-state relations in the country.
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