From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
In Ogun State, places such as Mokoloki, Ofada and some parts in Egbaland, are popular for the production of a local brand of rice known as “Ofada.” With its unique aroma, the local delicacy is eaten with special stew, prepared with a large amount of locust beans (iru), unripe pepper, a lot of palm and assorted beef, especially the innards, which are diced inside the stew.
Perhaps, due to its limited cultivation and manual processing, its price is always on the high side, hence, leaving many to make do with the imported parboiled rice, which is readily available. Besides, the latter is found easy to cook.
To take advantage of this opportunity, the state government decided to intervene in planting, processing and packaging Ofada rice in large quantity. It also made it known that it would try its hands on processing parboiled rice. Government walked its talk on Thursday, December 21, 2017, when it unveiled its pyramid of MiTROS Ofada rice in Abeokuta.
The event, held at the Farmers Market (Oja Agbe) in Asero, was attended by Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, head, Presidential Task Force on Agricultural Commodities and Production, Abubakar Bagudu, former military administrator of the state, Col. Daniel Akintomide (rtd.) and other eminent personalities.
Traditional rulers in attendance included Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle and the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi. Representatives of financial institutions, farmers associations and agriculture development partners also witnessed the event. MITRO Ofada rice ambassador, D’Banj and scores of Nollywood actors, were on ground to add colours to the ceremony.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo, said the event was the climax of Amosun’s government intervention in increasing the rice production, with the overall goal of contributing to the nation’s quest to defeat overdependence on rice importation. She said the ministry in collaboration with private sector, would open up more rice paddies across the state, while efforts would also be geared towards improving the yield and the processing. She added that apart from rice, government was working on the mass production and processing of other food crops such as maize, cassava and fishery.
Akintomide expressed delight at the height the state has achieved in agriculture. He noted that a nation with food sufficiency, would have a productive population and crimes would be at its lowest.
Oba Olugbenle said he was moved by the pyramid of rice, recalling it was pyramid of groundnuts he ever knew. He lauded the state government for taking the giant leap in agriculture and assured the government of the support of traditional rulers in making the project more successful.
Oba Adedotun, who rendered traditional folk song to eulogise farming, thanked Governor Ibikunle Amosun “for bringing an end to the paying of lip service to the revival of agriculture.”
Oba Ajayi lauded government hoping that the Federal Government would emulate the state in focusing on mass rice production, calling for the establishment of a rice plantation in Remoland.
State chairmen of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RFAN), Prince Segun Dasaolu and Segun Osunkoya respectively, expressed readiness to buy into the rice project. They said a new vista in agriculture has been opened by the state, harping on mechanized farming and state government’s assistance in the provision of land for farming purposes.
Emefiele said: “Ogun State government and the people deserve commendation, as the state continues to demonstrate support for FG’s efforts to create jobs, and grow the economy. Any nation who is not serious with agriculture is doomed. CBN will continue to support anybody that wants to grow agric sector. This step by Ogun State will help in stemming the demands for forex to import rice and we will eat what we grow.”
Bagudu lauded the state government for achieving the rice production, which would make better quality, hygienic and fresher rice available to Nigerian, unlike the imported that has minimum of seven years of shelf life. He tasked the Ogun state government on the need to venture into other areas of agriculture, particularly fish farming.
Amosun, who bemoaned the overdependence on food import, which puts pressure on forex and reduce values of naira, said his administration, in conjunction with other states, FG and private sector, would work vigorously, to defeat food insecurity. He disclosed that the state was currently operating three rice mills, with capacity to process thousands of tonnes of the product. He added that the state had struck deals with mega supermarkets to help distribute the products. He announced the price of the 50kg rice as N11,500, while the price of lowest 1kg was set at N230.