Access Bank and the governments of Lagos and Kebbi states have signed a Joint Venture Agreement for the establishment of a modern and commercially viable rice milling complex.
According to LeadershipNg, the complex, which would be located in Lagos, has the capacity to process and mill 20 tonnes of rice per hour just as the finished product would be known as ‘Laskeb’ rice.
Findings revealed that the two state governments had, in the past few months, worked closely with Access Bank Plc and a Mexican farming conglomerate, San Carlos, a company that has the requisite experience and modern technology for processing and milling of rice in commercial quantity.
It is expected that this project, which would serve as a booster to the federal government’s reform agenda, especially in agriculture, is expected to save Nigeria about $3billion yearly by way of import substitution.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) in relation to the establishment and operation of the rice milling complex was recently signed between the three principal stakeholders, Lagos State government, Kebbi State government and San Carlos Nigeria Ltd.
Access Bank, as the lead banker and adviser, would also have the responsibility for bringing other credible investors into the project.
It would be recalled that the bank had served as the lead financial institution to major projects in the country, including the Eko Atlantic City and, lately, the proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge.
An informed source said there are plans for a Chinese firm to also be brought into the partnership, adding that Lagos and Kebbi states may soon extend their collaboration in agriculture to animal husbandry.
According to the source, the rice milling project, at least as far as rice is concerned, lays a vital plank for Lagos and Kebbi states’ ambitions to become food sufficient as well as diversify their economic base.
For the stakeholders, the gains of the investment include a guaranteed return of investment, assurance of private sector confidence in the business climate, and job and wealth creation for Nigerian citizens.
Industry watchers believe the project would equally help to boost the diversification of the Nigerian economy, especially now that the federal government is working on strategies to develop other sectors as part of its strategy to curtail the country’s over-dependence on oil.
They commended the governments of Lagos and Kebbi for bringing up initiatives that would help to uplift the living standards of the people.