Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State says the state government is collaborating with the Dangote Group to boost rice production in the state and also promote food security in Nigeria.

The collaboration was announced by the Governor on Thursday at the inauguration of a milk collection centre in Saki, built by Friesland Campina Wamco Nigeria Plc. (FC WAMCO Nigeria Plc.).

At least 10,000 farmers in the state are expected to benefit from the 9 billion Naira rice production project, executed in partnership with the Dangote Group.

The partnership is an aspect of the State government's efforts to make the Oke-Ogun area and Oyo State, in general, the food basket of the nation.

“Our determination to make Oke-Ogun and Oyo State the food basket of Nigeria is gradually being realised.

“I am delighted that the Dangote Group has galvanised its resources to assist our government in actualising the dairy development programme, which we are currently implementing,’’ he said.

Ajimobi said the company had demonstrated considerable interest in the venture by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on dairy value-chain development.

He said that efforts were underway to establish small dairy farms in the state, in partnership with the Dutch government.

“These efforts will improve the livelihood of raw milk suppliers in Nigeria, particularly in Oyo State. Let me tell you that there will be a remarkable boost in the locally produced milk, labour and expansion of investment opportunities,” he said.

Ajimobi said that the state government had embarked on many agricultural projects, citing the Agric Oyo Programme, which involved the establishment of 250,000 hectares of agricultural zones, and the setting up of the Pacesetter Integrated Organic Farming

“The Agric Oyo Programme involves students, unemployed youths, institutions and other relevant stakeholders, while the Pacesetter Farm is strictly organic, the crop growing is without chemicals and importation of additives,’’ he said.

The governor said that his administration had acquired 320 tractors to facilitate crop growing across the state, adding that some other farm equipment would soon be imported from China and Brazil.

Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the Federal Government, which signed the agreement with the company on Diary Development Programme (DDP) in 2011, renewed the agreement in 2016.

The minister, who was represented by Dr John Taiwo, Director of Animal Husbandry, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that Federal Government had taken delivery of motorised mobile milking machine.

“This event is taking place at a time when there is need to raise the nutritional status of Nigerians and drastically reduce the over $1.3 billion expended on the importation of milk and milk products annually.

“So far, the DDP has encouraged sedentarisation of the nomadic pastorists, thus reducing herdsmen­-farmers conflicts in Oyo State,” he said.

The milk collecting centre — the fifth in Oyo State — has the capacity to collect over 40,000 litres of raw milk daily from 1,720 farmers.