Determined to turn Ondo State into an exporter of rice and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state, the State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has flagged off a multi billion naira rice project in the state.
Flagging off the ground-breaking ceremony of the project, in partnership with Africa RedCrest Nigeria, with the estimated amount of N12 billion at Igbara-Oke, in Ifedore Local Government Area of the state, the Governor hinted that the project will further put an end to importation of rice into the state.
Christened “Sunshine Rice”, the Governor hinted that the 10,000 hectares rice plantation will take off with 1,000 hectares for the first phase and would continue until the entire 10,000 hectares earmarked for the project are fully covered.
The Governor who revealed that the farm will be sited along the Owena Dam, stated that facilities within the Dam, through irrigation system, would guarantee an all-year planting for bountiful harvest.
He commended the company for setting up such investment in the state and enjoined it to keep to its promise of ensuring that the product is available by December.
Akeredolu assured that the state government despite having stake in the project will patronise them and ensure that the product takes the state to a greater height.
Describing the project as a gigantic one, Akeredolu assured that his administration will work harder towards ensuring that the project sees the daylight.
He added that the project, when ready for harvesting, would supply rice to every part of Ondo State, other states of the country, and neighbouring West African countries.
Governor Akeredolu further revealed that most states would soon face challenges of rice production as most rice milling companies in Thailand have folded up, hence the need for the rice project in Ondo State.
“Nigerians are no longer importing rice and some of them who have milling companies are planning to bring them down here.
“We are happy that we deem it fit to have this project here and very soon, everybody would begin to eat Sunshine Rice. It is going to be our own homegrown rice and we will all distribute it.
“Africa RedCrest Project, Producer of Sunshine rice has joined the list of Companies coming to make Ondo State an industrial hub” ,he said.
The Governor however, appealed to the Consultant handling the project, to hasten up work in the farm so as to ensure that the rice becomes ready by December, adding that there won’t be any reason buying rice from outside anymore.
Earlier, Executive Director of Africa RedCrest Nigeria, Mr L. Brenner, assured that one million tonnes of rice will be harvested before the end of this year in Ondo State.
Brenner said they are in the state to stay and ensure that large scale of rice production is achieved, having covered a thousand hectares of land this summer.
He noted that they are targeting many plants such as 1000 hectares this summer, 3000 hectares in Christmas, 4000 hectares in 2019, 6000 hectares and more that will serve the state and the nation at large.
He equally added that the company will generate huge employment to the people of the state and also boost the economic growth of the state.
Also, a member of the company’s Board, Prince Akinloye Aladenoye, explained that they have put in place necessary structures in place to ensure smooth operations.
He expressed optimism that as soon as the project is fully in production, the farm will serve as the main producer of quality rice within the country.
Speaking on the project, the Olowa of Igbara-Oke, Oba Adefarakanmi Agbede, noted that the project will in no small measures, help residents of the local government in the area of employment opportunities both direct and indirect.
“Igbara-Oke as a nodal town, is strategically located and borders two states; an entry point into Ondo State from both Osun and Ekiti States.
“With this, the employment opportunities will not only be limited to people of Igbara-Oke, but would trigger migration of people from neighboring states which will help boost the economy of the town”, he said.
The monarch who added that Igbara-Oke has always been partner in progress, noted that his subjects would continually support the Akeredolu-led administration that considered the local government in their policy implementations, saying Arakunrin Akeredolu has not disappointed the people of Ifedore local government.
Those present at the event included the Commissioner for Agriculture, Otunba Gboyega Adefarati, Secretary to Ondo State Government (SSG), Hon Ifedayo Abegunde, Chairman, Ifedore local government, Mr Ajibola Oladiipo, the Olowa of Igbara-Oke, Oba Adefarakanmi Agbede and other top government functionaries.