By Ashie Osor
Immediate past governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, has lauded the industrialization strides of his successor, Governor Ben Ayade, describing the establishment of the Africa’s first vitaminized rice mill in Ogoja as a phenomenal project.
Imoke who accompanied Governor Ayade to inspect installation of equipment at the rice mill said the automated rice mill would create employment, increase rice production and make Cross River a hub for rice production in the country.
“This is a phenomenal project that speaks volume of the governor’s vision, not just the vision but the timing of a project of this nature,” the former governor said, adding that “it makes economic sense, as it will create employment, increase rice production and make Cross River a hub for rice production in this country.”
While acknowledging the “intellectual money policy,” of Ayade, the former governor said “the secret of such a gigantic project, especially when the state earns the least from the federal allocation, could only be a product of intellectual money,” adding that “I love the location and this can capture all the rice in the central and north, and ideally situated in terms of access to the market.”
Continuing, Imoke said: “A lot of people feel that the Nigerian rice is not as qualitative as it ought to be, but with a mill like this, though I am not an expert but I believe that the quality of rice that will be processed here will beat local standard.”
Applauding Ayade’s commitment to increasing local rice production, Imoke admitted: “To be able to achieve that, you need a processing park that has not just the capacity but the latest technology and what you see here is exactly that. It is a matter of months for this place to become a hub and you have to do the road and car park because of the volume of activity.”
Commenting, Governor Ayade explained that “this is the first vitaminized rice mill in Africa. It is the latest technology and an adoption of the most sophisticated technique, part of which is my own intellectual inputs and design.”
Acknowledging the foreign expertise that went into setting up the factory, the governor said: “We have a team here from Germany who is working to make the plant run fully on solar, two megawatts of power and two megawatts of battery storage, so, day and night it will run without recourse to diesel.”
Offering further insight on the planned power system, Ayade disclosed that “if you want to run on diesel, it means you will be operating at a loss and that is why the team is here with me from Germany because they have been tested and proven in the industrial park in Calabar, so we want to extend that and have them to do this plant.”
Admitting that the quality, size and consistency of the grains will be fresh and polished, the governor said “very soon, you will see this plant running, when you see our rice you will know it is fresh, this is not like the imported type, so very soon we are going to explode.”