Ms. Abisola Olusanya, with the Lagos State House of Assembly team on inspection of the Imota Rice Mill

Lagos State Government has assured of a sustainable supply of paddy from local farmers for the 32 Metric Tonne per Hour Rice Mill at Imota upon completion by December, 2020.

The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya gave the assurance on Wednesday in Lagos on the sideline of an inspection tour of the Rice Mill by members of the State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture led by its Chairman, Hon. Kehinde Joseph.

Olusanya explained that rice farmers in the State were currently getting the needed support of the state government to ensure that they have a hitch-free planting season in order to ensure a steady and sustained supply of paddy for the Mill.

According to her, a lot was being done by the state government in partnerships with the corporate and local aggregators as well as other rice growing States’ Governments around paddy aggregation and for the supply of paddy to ensure the smooth running of the Mill.

“On Tuesday, we kicked off the rice farmers’ sensitization, training and empowerment programme for over 800 rice farmers in Lagos State. That is just a kick-off as a back up to the Imota Rice Mill Project.

“The reason is even if we are going to source for paddy from other localities, we should start from our own Lagos farmers, our Eko rice farmers which is why we are giving them the full support and Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is fully committed to ensure that this Mill runs sustainably,” she said.

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Olusanya recalled that when the administration of Sanwo-Olu came into power in 2019, the mill was barely at about 10 to 15 per cent level of completion, noting that as at today, it had attained over 85 per cent rate with the installation of the new lines and equipment as the only outstanding things to be done.

“I want to assure Lagosians that hopefully, this mill will be completed by December, 2020. By right, it should have been completed much earlier, but we all understand the issues around the pandemic, the total lockdown and the unavailability of flights; we have the biller team based in Switzerland and India who are supposed to help with regards to ensuring that the Mill lines are adequately inspected before installation for the warranty process to take effect.

“If they are unable to come here, there will be a delay which is why there is a bit of a delay but we are dealing with it. The team on ground is doing virtual calls, they have been able to bring some of the biller expatriates also down here to ensure that the installation continues.’

She pointed out that a good operating model has been put in place to ensure that the Mill was efficiently and effectively managed in order to ensure the sustainability of the Mill upon completion.

“Also, one of the issues that they have raised is around the management of this mill to ensure that tax payers’ money does not go down the drain which is why from the very onset of this administration, we had employed the services of one of the World’s leading Consultancy Firms, E.Y, to ensure that we get the right operating model in place. We do not want issues around the sustainability of this Mill.

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“We do not want it to be another white elephant project. This is why we have taken our time to develop the adequate business and management models, not leaving out the financial analysis around how and how soon we can recoup our investment back.

“As a result, we have come up with a standard operating model that we believe looking at the terrain globally of what is tenable in other countries and in other milling operations to get what will make this mill sustainable.

“I want to assure all Lagosians that Mr. Governor is doing all he can to ensure that this project is successful,” she said.

The Acting Commissioner noted that no fewer than 250,000 job opportunities would be created from the input aggregators, providers, farmers, logistics and service providers, marketers and distributors along all the entire value chains in addition to the ripple effects of the project on the locality among others.

“This mill is going to be a job generator and a wealth generator. We believe that with the partnership of everyone in this locality and the State at large, we will start reaching our food security status goal of making sure that no Lagosian is hungry, zero poverty and also to ensure that there is gender equality and everyone is happy,” Olusanya added.

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Olusanya explained that already, her Ministry was working closely with the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure as well as the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development to do a triangulation of the area in order to ease traffic movement, among other things.

“We have in this axis, the Imota Rice Mill, the Imota Regional Market and at the Agbowa axis, the Housing Development Scheme coming up around here, therefore, a triangulation is being done to see if another access road can be constructed to ensure that we do not impede the flow and movement of people on the roads that we have existing already.

“We will also explore the waterways as well to ensure that going forward, we do not put so much pressure on our roads. A lot also is actually being done at the Ministry of Water Front Infrastructure around how we can increase the use of our waterways.

“I believe that a holistic solution will be proffered around the issues we have currently in Lagos especially as regards logistics of goods,” she said.