GOV. Umaru Al-Makura of Nasarawa State on Thursday in Lafia handed over a modern rice processing plant to rice millers so as to boost rice production in the state.
Al-Makura said that the plant was established in partnership with Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the Rice Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Pilot Project (RIPMAPP).
He said that under the five-year project, JICA was expected to provide the machines and technical expertise, while the state government would provide the structures and other facilities.
He said that the commencement of the project was, however, delayed because of the designed efforts of the state government to ensure that the initiative was not misused, thereby frustrating its goals.
Al-Makura said that the delay was to ensure proper registration and monitoring of the beneficiaries of the project so as to check its abuse.
“We do not want to go the way of previous administrations where very expensive facilities and government assets were just thrown to the dogs and people would feast on them.
“The recent experience of `Badakoshi’ Agricultural Loan Scheme by the previous administration in the state, where farm inputs were given to farmers without concrete repayment plans, is a good lesson.
“As we speak, Nasarawa State is indebted up to the tune of about N1billion for tractors and other inputs, which the previous administration procured and gave out freely to people in the name of ‘Badakoshi’ loan scheme,” he said.
Al-Makura said that the government would closely monitor the rice plant so as to ensure its maximum utilisation by rice millers and marketers, who were given a six-month grace period to meet certain conditions.
He said that the government would not hesitate to take back the plant at the expiration of the grace period if the rice millers and marketers failed to satisfy the conditions.
“The state government is committed to ensuring that our rice millers grow to the point of participating in the value chain and creating wealth for themselves and by extension, the state,” he said.
The governor pledged to provide more land and other amenities for the plant in order to facilitate the relocation of rice millers from their current site in Lafia to the new site.
“The current rice mill in the Kilema area of Lafia is so choked up and the activities of millers are polluting the major water source to the Lafia waterworks, hence the need to relocate the mill to a bigger place with better facilities,’’ he said.
Al-Makura also promised that his administration would regularly give financial assistance to the rice millers to enable them to enhance their production.
Speaking, Alhaji Adamu Ibrahim, the Chairman of Nasarawa State Rice Millers and Dealers Association, commended the state government and JICA for the project and promised that the plant would be used to boost rice production.
He, however, stressed the need for government to provide access roads, electricity and water supply facilities at the plant site so as to facilitate hitch-free relocation of the millers to the new site.