Japan partners LAPO to commission N28m rice mill in Edo
As part of deliberate policies to address food insecurity in Nigeria, the government of Japan and Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) has commissioned N28million ultra-modern rice mill in Edo State.
The rice mill located at Ugbekpe-Ekperi community in Etsako Central local government area of the state has the capacity to mill three tons of paddy rice per day. The mill will be producing ‘Royal Rice’ as its brand.
Speaking at the commissioning at Ugbekpe-Ekperi community, Yutaka Kikuta, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria said the investment was among the Japanese Embassy’s grassroots grant assistance to increase the quality of rice production in Edo State.
Kikuta noted that the Japanese Government has also signed an exchange of notes for the project to increase the diagnostic capacity of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to fight against infectious diseases.
He said the fund was used for the construction of a rice parboiling building, rice milling equipment, office equipment, rice hauler, dehusker rice destoner machine, soaking tanks, steaming tanks, a generator, and bagging machine, among others.
He explained that the government of Japan, under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security (GGP) scheme, has over two decades engaged numerous local and international governmental organisations in funding over 170 projects in different parts of Nigeria worth over $12million.
“These projects are basically designed at uplifting, improving the lives and livelihoods of the rural communities while at the same time building the capacities of the NGOs involved,” he said.
He opined that rice farmers and local rice millers spent a long time milling their rice as well as incurring additional costs covering of manual labour and losing up to 20 percent of harvested rice due to damage in the process.
Earlier, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, founder of Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) and managing director, LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, said the project was a commitment by the government and people of Japan in partnership with LAPO to end poverty and hunger in Edo State and ensure that the people live healthy lives.
Ehigiamusoe represented by Obadiora Ayobami, the acting executive director of LAPO- NGO, said the three tons mill will ensure accessibility of rural dwellers to improve quality rice output.
“It will bring succour to the community members who hitherto travel long distances to mill and market their produce in neighbouring towns with all the attendant inconveniences, improve the household income and livelihood of target beneficiaries as well as create job opportunities for the teeming youths,” he added.
In his goodwill message, Richard Edebiri, the Edo State Commissioner for Agriculture, commended the Japanese government and LAPO for the enablement in making the rice mill project a success.
Edebiri said the state government gave a projection of producing 17,000 tonnes of rice annually which when actualized will make the state the highest producer of rice in the South-South geo-politicall zone of the country.
IDRIS UMAR MOMOH, BENIN