Rice prices, which remained at historically high levels, according to data from various Commodity Markets Outlook reports, could crash next month.

The Lagos State Government is said to have intensified effort to kick off the 32 tonne per hour Imota Rice Mill in Ikorodu.

The Nation learnt that recruitment of staff that will run the mill is ongoing, and that ahead of the commissioning and operation of the rice mill, the State Government has handed over the management of the facility to WACOT Rice Limited, a subsidiary of TGI Group, a private investor, for efficient running.

The private firm is to provide operational support and manage the mill for nine months in the first instance through Joint Venture. The partnership is subject to renewal subsequently.

The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Agriculture (Rice Initiative), Dr. Rotimi Fashola, said the private firm shared the Sanwo-Olu administration’s conviction to meet high demand for rice and make Lagos self-sufficient in rice production and processing.

He said: “There is a need for the Government to put the rice mill on the path of sustainability. We sourced a partnership in rice production business that has a stable brand and eye for efficiency. This brings forth this Joint Venture and technical support agreement with WACOT.”

In June, Lagos State Government began the training and empowerment of 500 rice farmers from three senatorial districts. The farmers received knapsack sprayer’s bags of fertilisers rice seedlings and farm coats.

He said the mill would require over 200 000 tonnes of paddy yearly to produce about 2 4 million 50kg bags of rice.

“However, the government has realised that such investment may not yield expected dividend without an investment in the capacity building and training of rice farmers in the state.”Thus, the state through the Ministry of Agriculture embarked on training of rice farmers and empowering them to improve their livelihood.”This year, 500 rice farmers had been trained and are being empowered with knapsack sprayers, bags of fertilisers, seeds and farm coats,” he said.

“With this, we hope that a substantial paddy will be produced and at least, we should be able to get up to 2,000 tonnes and above from the farmers that we are empowering,” he said.

Imota Rice Mill comprises major sections including boiler house, water storage and treatment, truck park, administrative building with offices, clinic and meeting room.

Others are rice production factory, fire station, storage warehouse (6000m2) and storage silos among others.

Lagos State Government set up two lines of 16 MT/hour capacity rice mill, in Imota, Ikorodu, to meet the high demand for consumption of rice thereby pushing Lagos State towards self-sufficiency in the area of rice production and processing.

The price of rice has risen to a record high of N37, 000 per 50kg bag, with Fashola expressing concern over rising rice prices.

The recent flooding in some parts of the country exacerbated the situation, sending the price of rice, which sold for between N27, 000 and N28, 000 in August, to N37, 000 per 50 kg bag.

Then, 50kg bag of short-grain foreign rice sold between N34, 000 to N36, 000.  Foreign rice is forecasted to hit N40, 000 per 50kg bag before the end of the year.

Analysts attributed this to the increase in prices of production inputs that have been the largest since 2018.

According to them, these developments have raised the spectre of stagflation and brought harm to the national agricultural economy.

Fashola, however said the government was working to ensure the mill takes off this year to help crash the price of rice.

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