SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, UMARU TANKO AL-MAKURA GOVERNOR OF NASARAWA STATE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL HANDING-OVER OF RICE POST-HARVEST PROCESSING AND MARKETING PILOT PROJECT (RIPMAPP) INCUBATION PLANT TO LAFIA RICE MILLERS AND DEALERS ASSOCIATION, LAFIA: THURSDAY 23RD NOVEMBER, 2017

1. His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State;

2. The Right Hon. Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;

3. The Hon. Chief Judge of Nasarawa State;

4. Principal Officers and Members of the State House of Assembly;

5. Members of the State Executive and Security Councils;

6. The Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State;

7. The Head of the Civil Service;

8. The State Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC);

9. Special Advisers;

10. Permanent Secretaries;

11. The Representatives of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development;

12. The Representatives of JICA and other Development Partners;

13. My dear participants

14. Gentlemen of the Press;

15. Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is with a sense of fulfillment that I address you on this occasion of the official handing-over of the Rice Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Pilot Project (RIPMAPP) to Lafia Rice Miller and Dealers Association, taking place here in Lafia, the State capital.

2. Let me, especially welcome the representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to Nasarawa State. Similarly, I acknowledge the presence of our development partners, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Agro business and Marketing Department (ABM) to this epoch-making event.

3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it would be recalled that in 2011, we commissioned the rice post-harvest processing incubation plant in Lafia as a tripartite arrangement between the Federal Government, Nasarawa State and the Japanese Government. Let me express our gratitude to the Federal Government and Japanese Government for this worthy collaboration which enhanced our vision for boosting rice
production and processing aimed at widening our competiveness in the quality of our domestic rice.

4. Today, I am happy to note with satisfaction that the project has completed its live cycle and has achieved tremendously in the areas of; distribution of high quality domestic rice; capacity building of staff on Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) which assisted in the implementation of its marketing, post-harvest processing and business management. The project has also achieved one of its aims of training small scale rice millers, parboilers, rice farmers and traders in the business of post-harvest processing and marketing.

5. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is gratifying to reiterate that Nasarawa State is reputable as an agrarian society, endowed with fertile land, good weather and climate conditions suitable for cultivation of both arable and cash crops for domestic consumption and exportation. It is for this reason that over 75% of our population is engaged in agricultural practices. Perhaps, I should add that our interest in rice production is hinged on the fact that the commodity has a comparative advantage, given that Nasarawa State has availability of soil texture that is suitable for rice production.

6. It is in this regard that this Administration has continued to canvass for partnership towards massive production of rice and other crops as panacea for food value chain addition. One of our efforts in this direction is our collaboration with the Olam Farms which today is producing not less than 10,000 metric tons of rice annually. This makes the company the largest producer of Rice in West Africa. I am happy to say that one of the multiplier effects of this synergy is that not less than ten (10) thousand of our youths in the State are employed by Olam Farm. In addition, the Olam Farm has supported 5,000 outgrowers in the State in the 2016 cropping season. This collaborative venture has assisted our farmers to harvest large quantities of rice. The out growers mechanism is expected to increase the number of beneficiaries to 20,000 by next year.

7. Your Excellences, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I need to point out that this Administration will continue to key into the agricultural policies of the Federal Government aimed at diversifying the nation economy towards industrialization of the country. It is in
this direction that we totally support the Federal Government in its out grower policy which is meant to improve the capacities of small scale farmers and processors aimed at eliminating unnecessary bottleneck.

8. The occasion we are witnessing today, therefore, is in our quest to explore all opportunities that will empower our small scale rice farmers, processors and marketers with the twin goal of increasing consumption of our domestic rice and providing opportunities for our youths and women to be self-employed and employers of labour. In this wise, we have committed over N80 million to the Rice Post-harvest Process and Business Management (RIPMAPP). We are here today to hand-over the edifice to Rice Millers and Dealers Association who are the direct beneficiaries of this worthwhile project. Let me, therefore, call on you to make maximum use of the incubation plant to enable you achieve the purpose of its installation for the benefit of all.

9. At this juncture, ladies and gentlemen, let me once again commend the Federal Government and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for this partnership.

10. On this note, it is my pleasure to officially hand-over the Rice Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Pilot Project (RIPMAPP) to Lafia Rice Millers and Dealers Associations.

11. Thank you and God bless.