Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya has called on Ofada Rice farmers in the State to focus on re-branding the commodity for market visibility and global acceptance.
Ms Olusanya gave the advice in Lagos at an Ofada Day Rice Symposium put together by her Ministry and Ofadaboy as part of activities marking the celebration of Y2021 World Food Day in the State.
The Commissioner who was represented by her Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hakeem Adeniji noted that this could be achieved by reiterating and promoting the dietary and health benefits of Ofada rice as well as standard processing.
She pointed out that in order to achieve standard processing, the Ofada must be organic and its grains should be odourless, homogeneous, free from impurities and appropriately packaged.
According to the Commissioner, the State government is continually encouraging and empowering Ofada rice farmers especially those found in various locations such as Ise and Obada in the Ibeju Lekki local Government area of the State in order to sustain and improve the local Ofada rice brand.
The Commissioner promised that the State Government would continue to support farmers in the State, encourage small and medium scale agro-processors and create an enabling environment for private sector involvement in agriculture as it would go a long way in growing the State’s economy through agriculture and food sufficiency.
“The acceptability of this brand has been hindered by the method of processing and packaging. The locally processed Ofada rice has a pungent smell as a result of fermentation during parboiling (soaking).
There is also the issue of impurities such as the presence of stones in the rice.“Most people have erroneously attributed the smell as a genuine property of Ofada rice and this does not meet international standard.
“To correct these errors and to put Ofada rice on the global map, the Rice for Job Programme of the Lagos State Government, in 2008, commenced the promotion of hot water soaking of Ofada rice during parboiling.
“The dried paddy was then taken into a destoner to eliminate stones and other impurities during milling, this led to an increase in rice production in Lagos State and neighbouring States and necessitated the establishment of the State’s cottage rice mills at Idena, Epe LGA and Ikoga, Badagry LGA, as well as, a Rice Mill of 2.5 Metric Tonne per hour capacity at Imota, Ikorodu in 2012.
“The Lagos State Government’s 32 Metric Tonne per hour capacity integrated Rice Mill at Imota, Ikorodu LGA, the biggest in Nigeria and in West Africa, is nearing completion and at full capacity it would produce 2,400,000 bags of 50kg polished parboiled rice from about 200,000 Metric Tonnes of paddy rice annually. It is expected that no fewer than 250,000 direct and indirect job would be created along the entire rice value chain,” Olusanya said.
She noted that the theme of the symposium which is Repositioning the Brand for Local and International Markets is in tandem with the theme of this year’s World Food Day, Our Actions are our Future: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life.