The Managing Director, Sylva Ejezie Farms Nigeria, Chief Sylva Ejezie, said it was a dream come true for him when he launched “Delta Rice” into Delta markets.
Ejezie, who doubles as Delta Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), spoke in an interview with NAN at his warehouse in Asaba on Wednesday.
He said that his over 30 years of experience as a farmer had given birth to a dream project of becoming a major rice miller and producer in Delta.
According to him, the Made-in-Delta rice can compete favourably with any foreign rice and is a pride of Delta after many years of travelling to other neighbouring states to process rice by Delta farmers.
“I am into the processing of rice for consumption; I named it Delta Rice, because years back, we had Ebonyi Rice, Anambra Rice, Enugu Rice, others.
“But as a rice farmer from Delta, I thought it wise for us to have our own rice, hence the name Delta Rice.
“We have paid the required registration with Corporate Affairs Commission, and the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ensure approval and quality control in the supply of rice for the people of the state.”
Ejezie noted that with the rice mill in place, there would not be the need for rice farmers in the state to cross to the neighbouring Anambra to process their farm produce after harvest.
“As you know, I am a rice farmer; I have been in the field of rice cultivation for over 30 years.
“Many years down the line, the state government supported rice farmers and in those years all the harvests were collected and taken to other states for processing.
“This to me was a waste of money with the processing states taking the glory.
“This is why I had to come up with the idea to process rice here in Delta to enable our farmers to process their products at relatively minimal cost and to serve our people with quality rice at affordable rates.
“I was into rice seed production before now. I am a licenced seed producer under the National Agriculture Seed Council.
“I had to process some of the seeds into finished products by paying huge transportation to Anambra for milling.
“It costs much to load the goods to the location for processing and even more to return them to Delta after processing.
“What happens is that farmers often avoid extra expenses of returning the finished product instead they opt to sell it out there.
“In this situation, the money the government gives as a grant or loan to assist farmers in the state makes little or no impact to the farmers’ welfare and to the people of the state who were expected to be consuming the products.
“This informed my resolve to start up this rice processing mill in Asaba in 2017 to support our farmers and to save costs; as of today, I have two warehouses in different locations in Asaba.
“I engage no fewer than 35 workers and the least is paid N35,000 monthly and this amounts to over N1 million wage bill.
“Initially, I had installed an electric rice processing mills.
“But for the epileptic power supply from the public power source, even after registering with the power company, I had to abandon the mill for a diesel turbine rice mill which is working perfectly.
“But funny as it were, the public power company has consistently sent me electricity bills for energy not consumed.
“Besides, the major challenge we have is that of parboiling and drying as farmers in the state are relying on natural or local means of parboiling and drying of their farm produce.
“This may affect production during poor weather conditions.
“I have every machine that is needed to process rice that can favourably compete with any foreign rice.
“The only thing that is missing is the machine for parboiling and drying.
“I have milling, de-stoning, cleaners, scales for weighing and sealing machines.”
Ejezie said that as a farmer, he cultivated over 120 hectares of land for rice annually in Delta and outside the state.
He added that the mill had the capacity to supply and meet the rice demand of the state during the festival and off festival periods.
According to him, the mill will serve the needs of the people of the state and there will be no need to look outside the state for rice.
“We produce 50 kg, 25 kg and 10 kg Delta Rice bags which go at the prices of N25,000, N12,500 and N5,000 respectively,” Ejezie said. (NAN)