South-West governors to embark on joint rice project

GOVERNORS in the South-West region of the country have agreed to execute a Rice Accelerated Programme for Integrated Development (RAPID) to facilitate food security and job creation in the region.

They also resolved to hold a Regional Agriculture Summit in Ibadan next month which is expected to be sponsored by the Lagos State Government.

In a communiqué signed at the end of their quarterly meeting themed: ‘Consolidating the Legacy of Regional Integration’ in Lagos, the governors under the aegis of Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum pledged to allocate land to the Lagos State Government for the cultivation of rice in the region.

The Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun, however objected to signing the Memorandum of Understanding on land allocation to Lagos State, accusing the state of abandoning the 1000 hectares of land given to it for its rice production project.

In his welcome address, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode,who said the MoU was initiated in a bid to expand rice production in the state, stressed that the state required 32000 hectares for paddy cultivation.

Noting that Ogun State would sign the MoU when the issues raised were resolved, the governor explained that the Lagos state government would be the offtaker for the paddy while other states would provide manpower for the cultivation.

”The ultimate goal is that all the western states would sign and be able to feed into the rice mill that Lagos state is locating in Imota area of Ikorodu, ” he said.

He stressed the need for food security in the region.

”The whole essence of food security of Western Nigeria is thus focused on our states maximising their comparative advantages to guarantee increased food, jobs creation and the welfare of our people,” Ambode said.

The governors also mandated the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission and agriculture commissioners in states in the region to liaise with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to develop a roadmap for each state four weeks before the proposed summit.

Other resolutions of the Forum include the formal admission of Lagos State as a member of the O’dua Investment Group, joint monitoring of the concession process for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport into a world-class facility, among others.

The meeting was attended by Governors Abiola Ajimobi? (Oyo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun represented by his deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga (Ogun), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and the host, Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos).

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