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Jigawa State government and host communities have thrown their weight behind the Dangote rice project expected to be the largest in Africa and with prospects for creation of thousands of job opportunities.
The government and members of the communities pledged their support and cooperation to the successful take-off of the project and its safety during a series of town hall sensitization meeting held with them by the management of the Dangote Rice Farm Ltd and officials of the Jigawa State government.
In an ambitious move to dominate the world market in rice farming, president of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said that there was no going back in his plan to invest heavily in rice farming in five states of the federation.
The communities expressed satisfaction and delight at the choice of their area for the gargantuan project. Preparations have commenced in the state, which is one of the states where the company, for a start, is cultivating 600 hectares of land for commercial rice farming by November.
Jigawa State government was particularly excited at the Out-Grower part of the plan that would see Dangote Rice helping farmers with implements to cultivate and grow rice which would also be bought from them by Dangote Rice, a project the state government would complement in its agenda of job creation and poverty reduction at the grassroots.
Already, multi million dollars-worth state of the art equipment for the commencement of the rice project is expected at a location in Kaffin Hausa local government area of Jigawa State for the project with potential to create thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities
According to the farming plan released during a sensitization town hall meetings with some host communities in the local government, the Dangote Rice Farm Ltd, the rice project at Kaffin Hausa, has a five-year plan to achieve between 175,000 and 200, 000, hectares of rice grown twice a year.
The rice project has a plan to follow the due process for the development of the 20,000 hectares of land for rice farming in order to produce and sell high quality parboiled rice in the Nigerian market.
Management of the company, led by Alhaji Mohammed Bello, said the Dangote Rice project had the objective of becoming the leader in rice farming in the world and also boost the Nigerian economy, encourage self-sustainability and import substitution in rice.
According to him, the company was set to reduce importation of rice into Nigeria by investing to become the largest farming operation in the world by 2020, with excess of 150,000 hectares of land spread around three to five states.
According to him, the Dangote Rice Company will produce and sell one million tonnes of high quality parboiled rice within the next five years and at the same time support and develop Nigerian rice farmers through the out-grower plan that will generate employment.
The management of the company expressed appreciation to the government of the state for its willingness to come to the aid of the company to ensure a smooth take-off of the project.
While meeting with the communities, some of those whose settlements fall within the government reserved area earmarked for the project, Alhaji Bello, sought the maximum cooperation of the people to realize the project, describing the decision by Alhaji Dangote to delve into the project as laudable.
He promised that the people would experience a new dawn in all areas of their life as a people, as the company would be ready to give them a new lease of life better than they are currently experiencing.
The sensitisation meeting, LEADERSHIP learned, has taken the company and state government officials to some 15 communities including Ciyayi, Gafaya, Wiwi and Auno villages in Kaffin Hausa local government area of the state.
Community leaders, who spoke one after another, described the rice project as a transformation project that they could not but support.
They urged Dangote Rice Company to put machinery in motion and commence cultivation as the project would provide thousands of jobs for their youths, who usually abandon the communities for big cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano in search of better living.
They gave the assurance that the project would be safe and that they would do all within their power to protect and make it flourish.
In his remark, Alhaji Hamisu Sabo, the director of Jigawa Invest, an investment agency of the state government, said the state government had been encouraging and supporting Dangote Rice project because it is a project that will make a difference in the lives of the people of the state.
He stated that the decision to establish the rice project in Jigawa was a boost to the development agenda of the new government in the state, pointing out that job creation and poverty reduction are cardinal objectives of the state government’s agenda.