Osinbajo commissions Africa's largest rice mill in Kebbi State as part of diversification plan

ACTING president Professor Yemi Osinbajo has commissioned Africa's largest rice plant opening the N10bn ($29m) Wacot Rice Mill in Kebbi State which has an unprecedented capacity to produce 120,000 tonnes of paddy rice a year.


Opened as part of the government's ongoing economic diversification programme aimed at reducing Nigeria's reliance on crude oil, the new privately-owned mill is located at Argungu in Kebbi State. Professor Osinbajo said that the project  underscored the policy of the government that the private sector must be the engine of economic growth and sustainable job generation.


He noted that the project had proved that the country could actually feed itself. During the opening ceremony, the acting president urged Nigerians to consume what we grow, stressing that the agriculture policy of the federal government is aimed at empowering the largest number of farmers and encourage young ones.


Professor Osinbajo said: ” This mill is important for several reasons as first it is the policy of the federal government  that it is the private sector that must be the engine of development. It is not just the private sector leading growth but the growth must be growth with jobs, it cannot be jobless growth we have seen a lot of jobless jobs.


“One of the critical things we are seeing today especially with the growth of agriculture is that this is growth with jobs, several thousands of our people are farming and are engaged in farming. I spoke to the managing director earlier on and he was saying that in this coming year they are expecting to be engaged with 50,000 farms and that is the kind of private sector led growth that we want to see."


Rahul Savara, the managing director of Wacot Rice Mill, added that the company had a plan of investing further over N100bn over the next years in various agricultural value chains. He noted that so far, over 5,000 small-holder rice farmers had been trained on good farming practices, financial management, production cost optimisation and yield enhancement techniques.


Professor Osinbajo added: "The president laid out in the budget of 2016  that we must grow what we must consume and it is up to us to grow what we eat. This is a landmark achievement here as it is a signal to the rest of the countries that Nigeria is not just open for business but it is set for development.”