Anambra state governor, Willie Obiano, has inaugurated the rehabilitated giant Rice Mill at Umumbo, Ayamelum Local Government Area.
The governor also laid foundation stone for Umumbo Irrigation facility expected to sustain all year round cultivation of rice.
The mill would be the largest in Nigeria and the entire West African sub-region at completion.
The project was commenced by federal government in collaboration with the World Bank and the Old Anambra State government before it was abandoned.
However, in 2010 the project was handed over to Anambra government, which later went into Public Private Partnership with an agro investor to ensure its resuscitation and full utilisation.
Obiano, who said the project would boost national self-sufficiency in rice production, noted that Umumbo remained a great contributor to the rice production transformation agenda of the state government.
He said that the projects were indication of his administration’s commitment toward improving the state’s agricultural production capacity.
The governor urged farmers to take advantage of the great opportunity provided by mill to open more doors of employment and development.
Afam Mbanefo, the commissioner for Agriculture, expressed gratitude to Obiano for making the mill operational once more.
Commenting on the irrigation project, Mbanefo stressed that the project would drive massive agricultural production as the irrigation would serve areas stretching not less than 200 kilometres.
Oliver Okeke, the managing director, Agro Investment Firm, announced that the facility had been fully fixed and expanded to produce 50,000 tonnes of milled rice annually.
Okeke said the irrigation system would draw water from Ezu River to serve other rice farms within the axis.
Uche Bennett, the assistant coordinator, JOSAN farms, said the state government and Umumbo community, have agreed to give JOSAN 5,000 hectares of land to develop irrigation and mechanised rice paddy farm.
He said that the JOSAN rice mill needed an annual paddy input of 80,000mt a year or 80 million kilogrammes of paddies.
Bennett said that in addition to this nucleus farm, JOSAN is the anchor off-taker for the Lower Anambra Irrigation Project, LAIP, in conjunction with NISRAL, IFAD, FADAMA and other development partners.
He said this was because the LAIP farm was formerly attached to the JOSAN mill, which potentially has no fewer than 10,000 rice farmers.
Igwe Cyril Enweze, the managing director, Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency, ANSIPPA, said the vision of the project was to promote food security and revenue generation.
Tony Nnamah, the president-general, Umumbo community, alleged that herdsmen had in the past destroyed farms and sources of water.