16 February 2012

Nigeria: FG, Taraba, Dominion Plan U.S.$40 Million Rice Project

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Agric and Rural Development, will on Friday in Abuja, sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Taraba State Government and Dominion Rice Integrated Farms Limited; on the proposed 30,000 hectares rice project in Taraba State.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, in a release issued in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Haruna Mathew, said the MoU was a culmination of investment drive in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), by directly building on Mr. President's Transformation Agenda.

Adjacent to Taraba River, the rice project will be fully irrigated and capable of producing 2.4 crop cycles per year. This farm, when completed, will require up to 15,000 well trained men and women working daily. Approximately 90 per cent of the land will be operated with contract farmers with the remainder utilised as a corporate farm and for educational training purposes by the lead investor, Dominion Farms.

Approximately 300,000 tonnes of rice will be produced annually for the Nigerian marketplace, which now imports approximately 2,000,000 tonnes of rice annually, thereby offsetting 15 per cent of imports, the release added.

Following signing of the MoU, 50 young Nigerian men and women will be leaving Nigeria for Kenya for a six months course in modern farming techniques, including tractor operation, irrigation systems, farm management, and equipment repair; rice processing, and team building.

After returning from Kenya, they would be given the opportunity to become key personnel in developing new lands for rice production in Taraba State, sources revealed.

Operations in Taraba will include a training centre to instruct 1,200 students per year in agriculture. Successful graduates will be eligible to be placed into teams and allowed to contract farm on portions of Dominion's land.

Taraba State government has assured that the training centre, grain storage silos, rice parboiling plant, rice milling plant, rice storage warehouse, offices, maintenance workshops, aircraft hangar and runway, weigh bridge, housing compound, and a power plant will be constructed immediately.

Land preparation will include the removal of trees and underbrush, construction of irrigation pumping stations, irrigation canals, drainage canals, and precision levelled rice fields.

Dominion Rice and Integrated Farms is the sister company of Dominion Farms Limited of Kenya, where it is the largest producer of rice in that nation. This is a fully integrated farm which begins with high quality certified seed production, production of crops, all the way through to processing and marketing of the final products including packaged milled rice, cereals, and animal feeds. The products are of world class quality.

Highly placed personalities and stakeholders expected at the MoU signing include former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Governor of Taraba State, Hon. Danbaba Suntai; and Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Others include Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe; Central Bank of Nigeria's Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, members of the National Assembly, Taraba State traditional rulers, youths, and members of Organised Private Sector (OPS). Adesina is expected to sign on behalf of the Federal Government.

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