The World Bank intends to provide a credit of N31.6 billion ($200 million) to Lagos State to boost rice production, says World Bank Sector Manager to Africa on Agriculture, Martein Van Nieuwkoop.
Nieuwkoop paid a visit to the Lagos Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, at the weekend after conducting a field visit to Imota Rice Processing Mill At the Ketu Ereyun Imota Corridor of the Staple Crop Processing Zone of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
He disclosed that the World Bank intended to provide a credit of $200 million to respond to the demand of the mill financing both upstream and downstream sector.
“The team is in the state to have an on the spot assessment of the mill. We have read so much about the mill but had to visit to see reality on ground. The bank has two priority areas in Africa which include agriculture and energy.
“We realised that low farm productivity and high cost of logistics are the duo challenging the development of Agriculture in Africa. This informed the reason of collaborating with the Federal Government of Nigeria on its Agricultural Transformation Agenda aimed at addressing the issues. We observed that the mill is the largest in the state with a capacity only to meet 5% of Lagos rice market,” he explained.
He lamented that Nigeria is the leading world exporter of rice, saying this trend had to be reversed and that to reverse the trend, there was the need to boost farm productivity and cut down high cost of logistics.
Nieuwkoop said he wanted to know the management arrangement at the mill and the future arrangement for sustainability, stressing that the bank was ready to collaborate with the state under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA and ensure that the objectives of the state and Federal Government were achieved in rice commodity enterprise in the country and that the programme was a success.
Responding, Lawal stated that the state government was laying more emphasis on agriculture, with the aim of boosting food production, especially in the area of rice production, which he said led to the establishment of the Imota Rice Mill, with a capacity to produce 20,000 metric tons of rice annually.
He said half of the imported rice to Nigeria was being consumed in Lagos, adding that the aim of the state government was to cut down importation of rice by setting up the mill.
He stressed that government intended to address the issue of low productivity and high cost of logistics.