A rice mill located at Kpekparigu-Kukuo in the Kumbungu district of the Northern Region – intended to facilitate the processing of local rice produced in the region – has been abandoned for years, B&FT checks have confirmed.
The mill, according to locals, has not been in operation for a long time; and it has harmed rice production in the region and the wellbeing of local farmers – who have resorted to selling the paddy at rock bottom prices to pay off mounting debt.
Locals believe that the factory renovation would not only ensure sustainable rice production among smallholder farmers, but also improve business activities and create jobs in the area.
This sentiment was expressed by a resident, Waliu Ibrahim, in an interview with B&FT – saying that the condition of the mill affects the women the most, as they have to travel long distances to have their rice processed.
“Our women have to go to Botanga to buy the paddy rice and transport it to Gumo, a suburb of Kumbungu, before having their rice processed. In the meantime, if the mill was working, it would reduce their stress,” he explained.
Mr Ibrahim added that if the government or the private sector were to take over the project and have it revamped, the impact on the local economy would be immeasurable.
He believes such a move would also support the government’s One District, One Factory initiative and reduce the import of rice into the country.
Agriculture is the main activity in the district and is practiced mostly at seasonal and subsistence levels, with some engaged in irrigated agriculture around the Botanga dam.
It accounts for approximately 60% of the district’s workforce, reflecting the agrarian nature of its economy.
The district, which should have a larger machine to grind tons of rice, only has a small rice mill with very limited capacity.
Botanga is known to be a key rice producer with an irrigation system available to ensure year-round rice production; but unfortunately the lack of proper maintenance led to rot and resulted in eventual abandonment.
The rice sector support project of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture is also part of the Ministry’s strategy to facilitate the production of food crops to achieve food self-sufficiency, processing and marketing systems. some products.
Rice has been identified in the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) as an important food crop that should receive special attention for food self-sufficiency, but the case is different in Kumbungu.
FASDEP emphasizes the sustainable use of all resources and the commercialization of activities in the sector with market-driven growth in mind.
However, it only targets a few commodities for food security and income diversification, especially for resource-poor farmers.
Efforts to get District Agriculture Department officials to answer questions about why the facility was closed proved unsuccessful.
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