By Ibrahim Bello
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, says Nigeria is an investment destination even as the West African Cotton Limited (WACOT) plans to double capacity in Argungu Local Government Area of the state.
Bagudu stated this when he visited WACOT rice company where he had a meeting on Friday with the Managing Director of First Bank, Dr Adeshola Adedetun, and officials of the company in Argungu.
He said:” WACOT has demonstrated that Nigeria is an investment destination today as they are announcing to double capacity in this very location.
“This is a testament to the fact that the country is a great investment destination.
“This is the result of the policies and programmes put in place by President Muhammadu Bello that gave support to industrialists, which paved the way for the establishment of 47 large scale rice mills in the country.
“These boosted rice production. It facilitated the attainment of self sufficiency in rice production in Nigeria, and an end to importation of the commodity, and encouraged many people to engage in agriculture.”
Bagudu also promised to make land available for the expansion of the company as well as a model of rice outgrowing scheme for farmers.
“WACOT as a company in Argungu, has been doing a lot of corporate social responsibility that we are proud of.
“They are supporting our festivals and communities and they have been involved in anything that affects Kebbi state since when they came to the state.
“We will make available land for them to expand model rice outgrowing scheme so that our farmers will learn and continue to learn.
“They have, however, spoken of the plan to do a rice academy where younger ones will learn optimum production, and we will make land available for them,” he said.
The governor also commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) for their sustained support to the agricultural sector, saying it had helped the country to attain its target on food security.
Earlier, the Chairman of the WACOT Rice Mill, Alhaji Faruk Gumel, disclosed that the company’s current capacity was 120,000 metric tonnes per annum.
“We are doubling the capacity to 240,000 metric tonnes which makes our company the largest integrated rice mill Africa,” he said.
Gumel said that the company had started working with farmers to ensure production was through, adding that over 5,000 farmers would be engaged, especially youth and women in the production.
“Three months ago, we started a programme with USAID through their West Africa Trade Hub Initiative before we completed the rice mill through.
“And the programme is a 10 million US Dollars programme in partnership with U.S. Government.
“The First Bank has been our partners ever since when we started this journey in 2015 and 2016.
“We are very glad as we have been promising the people of Kebbi state that our intention is to continue expansion and expanding, and we have now reached a very advanced stage of securing funding for our second rice phase, ” he said.
Also speaking, the MD of First Bank, Dr Adeshola Adedetun said that the bank had been in partnership with WACOT for a very long time, when rice revolution started in 2015.
“We are the major financier in the phase one; to us, is a thing of delight to see WACOT rice in the market, to see the progress of the company from a major importer of rice to now major producer of rice,” he said.
Adedetun commended the efforts of CBN, Kebbi State Government and WACOT in actualising the policy of federal government in making the country self- sufficient in food and secured. (NAN).