Checks have revealed that a rice mill intended to make it easier to process locally grown rice in the Kumbungu district of the Northern Region has been unused for some time.
Residents claim that the mill has not been in operation for a very long time, which has had a negative impact on the area’s rice output as well as the welfare of local farmers, who have been forced to sell their paddy at extremely low rates in order to pay off accumulating debt.
Renovating the mill, in the opinion of the locals, would not only guarantee smallholder farmers’ access to sustainable rice production but would also boost local economic activity and generate jobs.
In an interview with a local named Waliu Ibrahim expressed this perspective, claiming that women are the ones who are most negatively impacted by the mill’s condition because they must travel great distances to get their rice processed.
“Our women must travel all the way to Botanga to purchase the paddy rice and transport it to Gumo, a Kumbungu neighbourhood, where it will be processed. In the interim, if the mill was running, it would reduce their stress, he said.
The impact on the local economy would be immense, Mr Ibrahim continued, if the government or the private sector took on the project and had it rebuilt.
He thinks that action will also lessen rice imports into the nation and boost the government’s One District, One Factory plan.
The district’s primary industry is agriculture, which is primarily done on a seasonal and subsistence basis with a small number of people working in irrigation farming near the Botanga dam.
It makes up around 60% of the labour force in the area, which is indicative of the agrarian nature of its economy.
The district only has a tiny rice mill with a very small capacity, despite the fact that it should have a larger machine to mill tons of rice.
Although Botanga is known for being a significant rice producer with an irrigation system in place to provide year-round rice production, lack of sufficient maintenance has ultimately led to rot and eventual abandonment.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s programme to promote the rice sub-sector is also consistent with the ministry’s objective of promoting food crop production to achieve food self-sufficiency, output processing, and marketing systems.
The Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) lists rice as a significant food crop that needs to be given special attention in order to achieve food self-sufficiency, yet this is not the situation in Kumbungu.
FASDEP places a strong emphasis on the commercialization of sector operations and the sustainable use of all resources with an eye toward market-driven growth.
However, it only focuses on a small number of commodities for food security and revenue diversification, especially for farmers with limited resources.
Questions about the cause of the facility’s closure have been left unanswered despite attempts to contact Department of Agriculture officials in the district.