Daily Trust (Abuja)

20 February 2013

Nigeria: American Farmer Sets for Rice Farming in Taraba

Jalingo — An American farmer, Calvin Burgess of Guthrie, Oklahoma, owner of Dominion Rice and Integrated Farms Limited, is set to begin a large scale mechanised rice farming in Taraba State beginning this year's farming season.

Calvin, who is an experienced American rice farmer, had last year acquired massive farmland of about 30, 000 hectares to begin mechanised rice farming in the low land part of the state, close to Rivers Benue and Taraba.

Permanent Secretary in the Taraba State Ministry of Agriculture, Ifaimu Irimiya Kifasi gave the hint after an inspection tour to the farm located in Gassol Local Government Area of the state to ascertain the level of preparation for full farming activities in the place.

He expressed optimism that with the level of preparations he saw at the farm, full farming activities will begin at the farm by this year's farming season, adding, "His intention was to start the farm this January but for the delay in clearing some of his farm equipment at the port," he said.

According to him, about nine truck loads of farm machineries have already been brought to the farm while others are still awaiting clearance at the port, saying construction of farm houses are ongoing at the farm preparatory to the commencement of full farming activities, adding that the state and the nation at large stand to benefit maximally once the farm becomes operational.

Mr Irimiya pledged the support and commitment of the Taraba State government in ensuring that the large scale rice farming investment becomes a success in the state.

He said that the state government has awarded contract for construction of the road stretch leading to the Dominion Rice and Integrated Farms to guarantee easy access to the farm.

On his part, the Emir of Gassol, Alhaji Idris Ciroma said the farm will boost the economic activities of the community as well as empower people in the area, promising to meet with the state's acting governor, Alhaji Garba Umar to discuss with him on how to ensure the farm becomes a huge success.

He said over 30 visitors have come to the community which has been hitherto relatively unknown as a result of the presence of the farm in the area.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had last year in Abuja, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Taraba State Government and Dominion Rice Integrated Farms Limited on the proposed 30,000 hectares rice project in the State.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina in a release issued Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Haruna Mathew then 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," the statement read in part.

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

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 expected to meet global standards.

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