Better days are ahead of rice farmers in the country as WACOT Rice Limited, a member of the Tropical General Investments (TGI) Group, which operates an integrated state-of-the-art rice mill in Argungu, Kebbi State is working on increasing its milling capacity. The Chairman of WACOT Rice and Vice-Chairman (Africa) of TGI Group, Farouk Gumel, while flagging off its 2024 dry season farming with the distribution of inputs to out-growers farmers in the Argungu area of the state, pointed out that the 120,000-ton rice mill, whose capacity had been increased to 250,000 tons mill, would be inaugurated later this year.
According to him, it is one of the largest rice mills in Sub-Saharan Africa, which sources paddy from various paddy-producing states across Nigeria and produces premium household brands of parboiled rice, Big Bull and Patriot. Gumel explained that the out-grower programme seeks to increase the quality of smallholder farmers’ livelihood via access to required agri-input financing, capacity-building training on Yield Enhancement Techniques (YET), and Good Agronomic Practices (GAP). He said over 10,000 registered farmers including a large number of women and youth in the state, will receive agri-inputs, water pumps, training sessions and extension support during the dry season farming period. Speaking further, he emphasised WACOT Rice’s unwavering commitment to Nigeria’s food security. He highlighted the inclusivity of the out-grower programme, supporting farmers of all demographics with certified seeds, agrochemicals, and training sessions to enhance productivity and income.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, who during the flag-off, inspected WACOT Rice’s state-of-the-art 250,000-ton mill ahead of its inauguration, expressed delight with the initiative, noting that it would boost farmers’ productivity and income. He lauded WACOT Rice and its parent company, TGI, for empowering farmers across various value chains nationwide. Highlighting TGI’s substantial investments in agriculture and other sectors, the minister affirmed the alignment of these investments with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda. According to him, “I am impressed with what I have seen. This project is heading in the right direction, utilising the farm produce from local farmers for raw materials. The government stands ready to support initiatives like WACOT Rice, recognising their potential to create jobs and improve livelihoods. As part of our strategic focus, we are actively considering creating farm land for WACOT Rice, further enhancing our agricultural capabilities”, he said.
However, Gumel expressed enthusiasm for hosting special guests at the project site, acknowledging that the general understanding of their initiatives might be limited. “Whenever we have special guests visit us here, we get very excited. The feedback we receive encourages us to intensify our efforts in production. The community here is peaceful, inclusive, and accepting, and what we have achieved is not just a result of hard work, but also the love shown by the host community. This encouragement is what propelled us to undertake some of the initiatives we have implemented. If more investors in Nigeria extend their reach into the rural economy and replicate similar projects, our country could gain an unparalleled competitive advantage”, he said.
Expressing gratitude to the minister for the visit, Gumel thanked the Federal Government for dedicating a ministry to, not just agriculture, but also food security. “We are here to assure him and the rest of Nigeria that we will play our part in bringing peace and prosperity to the nation through our agricultural endeavours”. A member of the Dabuzama Rice Farmers Association, Ibrahim Alhassan, who is one of the beneficiaries, expressed heartfelt gratitude by acknowledging the significant impact of WACOT Rice through its agri-input loan programme. Alhassan emphasised that WACOT Rice’s support had been pivotal, saying that “WACOT Rice’s continuous assistance, from providing essential inputs showcased in the display stand to comprehensive training and capacity building, has transformed our lives”. Another beneficiary, Hajia Nafisa from the Augie local government area also appreciated WACOT Rice for the initiative.