The Ondo State Government has expressed its readiness to partner with the Dangote Group on the establishment of a 3,000-hectare rice farm in the state.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Adegboyega Adefarati, conveyed the government’s viewpoint on Thursday in Akure when he received a delegation of the group in his office.
Adefarati, who thanked the company for its resolve to invest in the state, expressed the readiness of the state government to key into the proposal.
He said that the gesture was in line with the state government’s vision to use agriculture as a tool for job creation, economic diversification and poverty alleviation.
He, however, underscored the need to establish a rice processing plant where the paddy from the proposed rice farm could be processed and packaged to guard against capital flight from the state.
Adefarati said that the lack of crop processing industries was the major challenge facing farmers in the state.
He, therefore, called on multinational companies, groups, organisations and well-meaning individuals to establish produce processing industries in the state.
Also speaking, Mr Akin Olotu, Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Agriculture, lauded the Dangote Group for the proposed project and assured the company of the government’s cooperation in ensuring the success of the project.
He said that a technical committee, which would comprise all relevant stakeholders, would be inaugurated to facilitate the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) so that the project would begin as soon as possible.
Dr Sani Dawop, the General Manager, Dangote Industries Limited, said that the 3,000-hectare rice farm would engage more than 6,000 youths.
“The farm is expected to produce about 15,000 tonnes of rice annually, while 30 per cent of the participants would be women,’’ he said.
Dawop, however, urged the state government to expedite action on the proposal “so that work can commence on the project soon”.
He said that Ondo State had the potential to lead other states of the federation in rice production.