Niger State government inaugurated a rice mill worth N40 million for Kwakuti Women Rice Processing Cooperative in Paikoro Local Government Area of the state on Thursday.
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Ibrahim Panti, inaugurated the facility.
“Government welcomes the collaboration between it and other development partners, for the completion and equipping of the rice processing centre,’’ he said.
He listed the partners as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP), and the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
Panti said the facility would improve the quality of milled rice to meet the requirements of the local and international markets.
“It is interesting to note that prior to this intervention, the Kwakuti women processors had no modern milling equipment.
“With this intervention, the project has provided enabling and neat environment for processing rice,’’ he said.
The commissioner explained that the facility has parboiling shed, drying slab, milling and de-stoning machines.
He added that the gesture would enhance rural socio-economic development and improve tremendously, the livelihood of the rural poor, especially women.
In his remarks, Dr Idris Gbogan, Permanent Secretary in the ministry said that the IFAD-assisted VCDP had achieved a lot in the state.
He listed some of the achievements as the production and boosting of rice processing in Bida, Wushishi, Katcha, Kontagora, Shiroro, Edati, Borgu and Mokwa local government areas of the state.
He said the VCDP-Additional Financing (VCDP-AF) provided processing infrastructure in three new benefiting local government areas of Edati, Borgu and Mokwa.
He added that the VCDP-AF had supported more than 30,000 farmers in the state with high quality seeds, improved cassava stem cuttings, tractors, power tillers and processing equipment.
The permanent secretary also noted that the programme had provided capacity building for participating farmers and linked them to off-takers
In his remarks, Prof Hussaini Ibrahim, Director General, RMRDC, said the council embarked on partnerships with various processors of commodities to put up common facilities to reduce their operational costs.
“The operation of this common facility entails that the processors will pay a token for their commodities to be processed.
“The money realised from these charges shall be used to buy spare parts, fuelling, payment of electricity and water bills,’’ he said.
Ibrahim said the arrangement would help the beneficiaries to replace the machines when they wear out.
Earlier, Dr Mathew Ahmed, the state’s Programme Coordinator said that the building and equipment was established at the cost of N40 million.
He explained that the VCDP provided the three buildings housing the equipment and machines such as milling and de-stoning machines, while the RMRDC provided the drying and parboiling equipment.
He said that the programme would subsidise the centre with 70 per cent of the cost of its establishment, while the beneficiaries would pay the balance of 30 per cent.
He said the facility has capacity to process 25 tonnes of rice per day.
Hajiya Mairo Ibrahim, a member of the cooperative society in her remarks thanked the collaborators for the gesture.
Ibrahim promised that the facility would be used judiciously for the benefit of users and to further boost economic activities in the state.