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Boost for Adani rice as ATASP-1 dedicates modern market

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By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu

Rice farmers and traders operating at Adani, host community of the famous Ada Rice Irrigation Project in Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu state, celebrated with fan-fare as the ultramodern market retail and lock-up shops constructed by the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program –Phase One (ATASP-1) was dedicated and handed over to the community. 

This is considered a major boost to the Ada Rice production and marketing. 

During a brief hand-over ceremony, ATASP-1’s national programme coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed Arabi expressed delight that ATASP-1, a federal government special agricultural intervention initiative had fulfilled the yearnings of farmers and dealers in Adani rice to have modern market lock-up shops and stalls where they can sell their rice.

Chairman of Uzo-Uwani local government, Mr Celestine Chukwudi Nnadozie cutting the tape during official handover of Adani modern rice market built by ATASP-1 Adani-Omor Zone.

Arabi, represented by the national agriculture specialist, Mr Adekunle Alege, called for proper use of the facilities to ensure that the ultimate goal of the federal government through the ministry of agriculture and rural development to invest multi-billion naira on infrastructure projects and programs in the community was realised.

“As you know, these projects are being financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) group. It’s a loan to the federal government of Nigeria and a grant to the participating states. 

“It’s a low-hanging fruit for the state with zero financial contribution from the community. However, the state government is expected to provide counterpart contributions that will be used in payment of taxes and operating costs. So, what we expect from you is to make good use of it, maintain it so that ATASP can do more things for you,” he said.

Speaking during the hand-over of the facility, the zonal programme coordinator, ATASP-1 Adani-Omor Crops Processing Zone, Mr Romanus Egba, disclosed that ATASP-1 took up the modern market initiative as part of ongoing drive to restore the glory of Adani rice which had seen ATASP-1 undertaking concrete lining of 22.4 km of the canal at the Ada Rice Irrigation Project, two Span Bridge across Obinna River with double surface coating of 63km feeder roads around the irrigation area, building of two classrooms block and motorized solar borehole in the community, as well as empowering local farmers and other stakeholders along the value chain.

Egba, who was represented by the zonal outreach specialist, Mr Emeka Ude, said. “Our desire is to transform Adani into a rice production hub by not only providing social and economic infrastructures but also empowering farmers and other stakeholders across the commodity value chain in modern rice farming techniques, processing and marketing. And we are doing all these things at zero cost to the communities. 

“All we are asking for is that the local community, state and local government authorities give us their maximum support.”

Also addressing stakeholders, the zonal gender and social development specialist (ZGSDS), Mr Chinedu Ugwuta, however, warned that ATASP-1 would not be happy if the facilities provided to enhance marketing of rice in the area was not well utilised by the stakeholders. 

“We want to notify you that ATASP-1 farmers, traders and other stakeholders must uphold the international standard and best practices at all times. Recently, we trained farmers, traders and processors from the community on weight and measurement because we don’t accept the bushels style of measuring rice. 

“We believe in using standard weight and measurement to sell rice so that customers would not be cheated in any way. So, our expectation is that those operating under the new market must abide by this rule,” he stated.

Ugwuta also stressed the need for those operating in the Adani rice market to adopt ATASP-1 branding, packaging and marketing initiative. 

“We also expect ATASP-1 farmers and traders to cue into the Adani branded rice initiative being championed by the program so that consumers will appreciate the quality of rice produced from the area and increase their patronage. 

“We don’t want unbranded rice to be sold at the market. We want them to be sold in ‘Adani-Rice’ branded bags for easy identification anywhere in the market. The benefits of selling branded rice cannot be over-emphasized,” he stated.

In a remark, the chairman of Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu state, Mr Celestine Chukwudi Nnadozie, hailed the management and staff of ATASP-1, Adani-Omor zone for their various intervention projects in the local government. 

He described the new Adani rice market as critical in unlocking the agricultural potentials of the area. 

“It’s a dream come true to finally have a modern rice market at Adani. With this facility, farmers and dealers in Adani rice can easily sell their special brand of rice at ease. 

“I have always maintained that Adani is a blessed land and that is why ATASP-1 has taken special interest in helping to develop it,” he noted.

While thanking the Enugu state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for providing the conducive atmosphere for the socio-economic development in the state, Nnadozie pledged that the local government would liaise with the community and other stakeholders in the market to ensure proper use and maintenance of the facilities provided by ATASP-1 in the community.

Highlights of the event was the formal hand-over of the Deeds of Ownership document to the local government chairman by ATASP-1 zonal programme outreach, Mr Emeka Ude.

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