‘Government needs to make rice farming attractive’

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Tobi Fletcher a budding entrepreneur is doing his bit to fulfil his passion in business. The microbiologist who hails from Ofada town, Obafemi Owode Area of Ogun State, famous for the production of local ofada rice sees farming as a veritable avenue to grow the economy.

Speaking in an interview with The Nation, Fletcher lamented that it was disheartening to note that though Ofada town originally known for the production of rice but has been overran by real estate developers.

“All the land in Ofada town that where originally used for harvesting and planting of rice has been sold and used to build residential estates and all due to its proximity to Lagos. Almost all the land there has been sold.”

Little wonder he has decided to dedicate his time and resources towards the growth and production of the local rice. “My great grandparents were amongst the first farmers of ofada rice and they were the ones that actually discovered it, and for so long a lot has not been said about them which is the typical Nigerian way. I’ve decided to build on the legacy which they started.”

Thankfully, he revealed that he has since set up a cafeteria that deals mainly on the local delicacy. “I actually started as a caterer of ofada rice. I cook it and serve in parties. The reason for this is because as at the time I started, I found out that almost all the ofada rice in circulation were very stony and had this foul smell and I felt it could be done a lot better so I started my own brand so I could promote the rice and make people know it can actually be done better.”

Justifying the production of the local rice, Fletcher who is fondly called Ofada Boy by friends and associates said matter-of-factly that: “Not many people know that the unpolished rice has more health benefits than the polished rice. It’s one of the few grains cultivated without chemicals. Ofada rice emits a unique aroma when cooked. It is self-preserving and one of the foods that add value to the lives of the health-conscious people including those who are diabetic.”

Speaking further, he said ofada rice is very beneficial for digestive system, it promotes healthy bowel movements, thereby helping to prevent constipation. “It high fibre content controls the amount of calories intake and makes it filling, thereby reducing chances of overeating and minerals, the cellulose of ofada rice not only increases the fibre content but also contains a variety of colour pigments that is beneficial for health.”

While reiterating plans to revive the growth and production of ofada rice, he urged sons and daughters of Ofada extraction to work in unison to make this a reality.

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