The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said on Wednesday that it would soon revive its rice processing plants at Elele Alimini in Rivers and Mbiabet-Ikpe in Akwa Ibom States.
The NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, disclosed this after inspecting the 180 tonnes per day facility at Elele Alimini.
According to him, the rice mills at Elele Alimini in Rivers and Mbiabet-Ikpe in Akwa Ibom States will be revived with a combined capacity of 210 metric tonnes per day.
Ekere expressed displeasure with the non-utilisation of the rice mill which was completed in 2008.
He lamented that the firm engaged to run the facility, allowed it to lie fallow for 10 years, which is “unconscionable” saying the situation will be redressed urgently.
“What is important is to get this facility up and running and stop the huge waste of government resources.
“We will negotiate with private investors and set the process rolling in the next couple of weeks,’’ he said.
The managing director said that the resuscitation of the two rice mills would encourage the local communities to grow more rice, and expand the agricultural value chain.
“You can’t put the kind of resources that NDDC committed to this project and then allow it to just lie waste.
“The wasting rice mill in Elele Alimini has the capacity to impact positively on the Nigerian economy, it could have created many jobs and increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Nigeria as a nation is still importing a lot of rice and we spend billions of dollars importing food, yet we have a facility here that can actually help to reduce the amount we spend on food imports and we just leave it idle.
“Going forward, we will immediately go into partnership with the private sector to put this facility to use. We want to see that this mill is functional, so that we can begin to employ people.
“Hundreds of Nigerians will be gainfully employed, if we get this facility working and functional. Many others will be employed indirectly.
Ekere explained that re-activation of the rice mills would also encourage local farmers to produce more rice.
He said that the commission would develop ‘out-growers scheme’, to encourage members of the communities to grow more rice.
He promised that NDDC would provide seedlings and other technical support to encourage local farmers to increase their production, knowing that they would have a guaranteed market.
“Three months after they produce, their products will be bought and the economy in the rural communities will be positively affected and wealth will be created for the people. That is what we want to do.
“NDDC would do everything possible to ensure that farmers derive maximum benefits from the rice mills to guarantee massive cultivation and production of rice in the Niger Delta,’’ he said.
The NDDC boss assured that the contract terms for the operation of the rice mill would be reviewed because the contractor failed to perform.
“We will terminate the existing contract because the contractor evidently does not have the capacity to run the facility.
“What is important to me and the government is to get this facility to be functional so that we can put food on the table of Nigerians,’’ Ekere explained. (NAN)