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Lagosians worried as Lake Rice misses border closure sales boom

The earlier enthusiasms that greeted the launch of Lake Rice in Lagos and its wide distribution across major selling points in the state have died since the total ban on rice smuggling.

This has put many Lagos residents on the toes of asking questions on what happened to Lake Rice which should by now, been the bride of all rice lovers in Lagos at least, for being the product of the state.

Recall that under former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration, he sealed a multibillion naira deal with Kebbi State to fund massive rice production even as Kebbi will bring the land.

The seal enjoyed serious support of the Ambode administration and it resulted in Lake Rice flooding and saturating Lagos at N12,500 only for a bag of 50kg.

However, since the coming in of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lake Rice has disappeared across all the sales point and no answer is coming forth from the government on why the product is scare after all.

Besides, more rice firms are making serious inroads to the market even as more states are bringing to the table, their rice brands.

Aside states governments’ exploits, private sector and mainly foreign investors are also making headway in the industry.

Latest is Tiamin Rice Mill Limited which said it has invested a total of $13.4 million (N5bn) to boost its production capacity from the current 320 tonnes to 1,520 tonnes per day.

Managing Director of the company, Aminu Ahmed, disclosed this when he led the management of the company to pay a courtesy call on the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, in his office in Abuja.

The Managing Director said the policy of the present administration; especially the ban on smuggling and the interventions given to them by the Central Bank of Nigeria have helped immensely in boosting local production of rice.

He further revealed that the company was established in 2016 in Kano and started production of rice in 2018 with 320 tonnes per day.

He disclosed that the existing production line in Kano would be expanded from 320 tonnes to 920 tonnes next year, just as a new production line would start production of 600 tonnes per day in Bauchi by May 2020.

“We are now investing $13,370,500 to boost our production capacity to 1,520 tonnes per day. Already we have placed orders for all the machinery needed, and all arrangements are on top gear to meet the deadline we set.

“By next year, we plan to become the biggest rice producers not only in Kano but in whole country.

“Our watch word is quality and affordability. We produce one of the finest brands in Nigeria that can compete with foreign rice brands in terms of quality,” Mr Ahmed said.

Mr Ahmed therefore appreciated the relative quality and durability of Indian machines, which he said are the secret behind the quality of Tiamin Rice.

The Managing Director then thanked the Indian High Commission for support and sought further cooperation in the areas of easing trade relations between his company and Indian partners.

Lagos State Gov., Babajide Sanwo-Olu

In his response, the High Commissioner thanked Tiamin Rice for the courtesy call, expressing delight and appreciation for patronizing Indian machines.

Mr Thakur said the High Commission hopes that the policy of boosting local production would be sustained beyond the present administration so that local industries in the country would grow.

Briefing journalists after the visit, the Managing Director of the rice mill thanked the federal government for supporting local rice production and the state governments for giving them enabling environments.

“We thank the federal government for giving us all the needed support to operate and sustain our production. We thank Kano State and Bauchi State Governments for their support in the allocation of the area of land.

“In line with Kano State Government’s policy of allocating free land to genuine investors towards reviving the industrial glory of the state, Kano State governor has particularly allocated land to us for our expansion project.

“It is heart-warming that during the governor’s visit to our company on 23rd May, 2018, he expressed desire to support and woo local investors with allocations of land.

“We urge other state governments to follow suit in order to boost local production and provide employment opportunities for youth in their states,” Mr Ahmed added.