The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, has urged Ofada Rice farmers in the state to re-brand the commodity for market visibility and bring it to a globally acceptable standard.
Olusanya gave the charge on Wednesday, in Lagos, at an Ofada Rice Day Symposium, organised by her Ministry and OfadaBoy, as part of activities to celebrate 2021 World Food Day in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that OfadaBoy is an indigenous African themed restaurant located in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. It offers different signature Ofada (local rice) delicacies.
NAN also reports that the Commissioner for Agriculture was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Hakeem Adeniji.
Olusanya said that the acceptability of the brand had been hindered by the method of processing and packaging.
She said that to achieve standard processing, Ofada rice 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.
She said that this was especially so with those in locations such as Ise and Obada, in the Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area of the state, to sustain and improve the local Ofada brand.
The commissioner said that the state government would continue to support farmers in the state, as well as encourage small and medium scale agro-processors.
She said that government would create an enabling environment for private sector involvement, 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, because 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 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.
“This necessitated the establishment of the State’s cottage rice mills at Idena, Epe LGA and Ikoga, Badagry LGA, and 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.
“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 jobs would be created along the entire rice value chain,” Olusanya said.
She noted that the theme of the symposium — “Repositioning the Brand for Local and International Markets”, is in tandem with the theme of this year’s World Food Day.
“The theme of the 2021 World Food Day is “Our Actions are our Future: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life”.
“These themes are indeed apt as they focus on ways to ensure that a variety of sufficient, nutritious and safe foods are available at affordable prices to the citizenry.
“This is what makes a sustainable agri-food system,” the commissioner said.
NAN reports that the World Food Day is celebrated worldwide on Oct. 16.