The plans for the 2nd edition of The Nigerian Rice Festival, billed to hold from 25th -27th April 2019, at Adeyemi Bero auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja, is in top gear. The event, coming six months after its inauguration is in accordance with the promise made by Olukemi Ilori, the Convener, to host second edition not more than six months after the first outing. “We are fast-tracking the development of the brand by hosting two festivals a year – one on the mainland and another on the Island,” she said. “It will give us an opportunity to take our national food brands, jolly rice, to other Rice Festivals and create awareness about Nigerian Jollof Rice, the best in the world, as well as other Nigerian Rice dishes. It is probably only football than can overshadow Jollof Rice as a positive Nigerian export.”
Nigerian Rice Festival is an emerging cultural food event which is designed to brand Nigeria positively. It most importantly, has a food tourism component like other global Rice Festivals. The first edition award was won by Mrs Kemi Akemu from Warri, Delta State, with her banga rice recipe. The demonstration cooking also featured Ofada Boy, and interesting dishes like Yamba Yamba rice. This year, a lady from Langtang, Plateau State has promised to cook special native jollof rice. There will also be demonstration cooking in coconut rice, concoction rice, ground rice, and others.
A Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SME) Company, Nana Spices Jollof Rice spice, has been donated for the Jollof Rice War. According to Ilori, the rice festival is 100 percent natural and proudly Nigerian. She, is therefore, encouraging other brands to get their endorsement for their products in cooking Nigerian rice. These include tomato pastes, cooking oils, spices, meats, etc.
The event is divided into two: food competition and exhibitions. This festival is importantly designed to enhance commercial activity in the entire rice value chain. It does it in such a way that people enjoy it and are happy. “The rice revolution is important in that it creates employment thereby reducing crime, capital flight, and it feeds the populace thereby enhancing food security.” Ilori, who is also the CEO, Total Exhibition Support Services Co. Ltd., and Kellar West Africa Nig Ltd., described Nigerian rice as healthy with a lot of varieties, and a low glycolemic index, which makes people less predisposed to diabetes. “Our rice varieties are also rich in nutrients unlike the polished ones that are imported”, she stated.
She expressed gratitude to Lagos State government and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Co-operatives for partnering with them to make the rice festival possible by providing the venue. She equally appreciated all the staff of the Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium for their support. The festival is a global phenomenon, therefore, winners will have the opportunity to compete at global food events, Ilori said.