The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is set to partner with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the privatisation of the two rice processing plants built by the Commission at Elele-Alimini in Rivers State and Mbiabet-Ikpe in Akwa Ibom State.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said this at a business meeting between his ministry and top officials of the NDDC, led by the commission’s Managing Director, Bassey Dan-Abia.
He promised that his ministry would support the re-activation of the two rice mills with a combined capacity of 210 metric tonnes per day, but suggested that they would be better managed by private investors.
The meeting, which was attended by experts from both sides, was held at the Minister’s conference room in Abuja with expectations that it would bring the dividend of the Act establishing the NDDC to the people of the Niger Delta region in the area of agriculture.
Dr. Adesina had assured Nigerians that the two rice processing plants would be revived through a private sector-driven model as “Government does not really have any business running anything”.
He noted that, its role should be to formulate policies, put infrastructure in place and give incentives to aid the private sector to perform.
“It is the private sector that can run the mills efficiently,” he said.
The Minister stressed that he was ready for a very strategic engagement with the NDDC on how to get agriculture working as a viable enterprise that would create jobs in the Niger Delta region.
In his presentation, the NDDC Boss, Bassey Dan–Abia, solicited the support of the Ministry of Agriculture in its drive to boost the efforts of farmers and meaningfully engage majority of the people of the Niger delta.
While speaking on the needed assistance of the ministry in bringing the two rice processing plants, which had been idle for many years, to life, he regretted that the plants, which were test-run in 2009, could not function due to lack of rice paddy and the fact that they had suffered depreciation over the years.
While speaking on the NDDC’s readiness for the re-activation of the dormant rice mills, Dan-Abia, said that the NDDC was poised to establish an Out-Growers Scheme of 1,000 rice farmers in the Niger Delta.
The scheme, according to the NDDC boss would ensure the sustainability of the rice processing plants when they become operational, apart from the contributions of the NDDC in commercial rice farming.
Dan-Abia said the NDDC had trained 14,000 youths in agricultural skills and entrepreneurship development.
The commission has given financial support to 3,700 farmers through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), as well partnered with the International Funds for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on the Community-Based Natural Resources Management Programme in Niger Delta.
An expert opinion have suggested that if the NDDC gets it right, they should be able to have NDDC own rice in the market by December 2014.