Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for diversifying the nation’s economy by making agriculture its main stay.
Ayade, who spoke during the flag off the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Rice Anchor Borrowers Programme at Odukpani Local Government headquarters, said the introduction of the programme was the beginning of the nation’s march to food sufficiency.
“We must thank President Buhari for introducing this programme, because if you follow the roadmap, plan and vision for this initiative, you will definitely know that this is the beginning of the emancipation of Nigerians from their continuous dependence on imported rice.”
Governor Ayade who noted that the rice value chain initiative remains a special ceremony that will increase rice production in Africa because Nigeria is the epic centre of Africa, lauded the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, for the gesture.
Worried by the huge amount spent annually to import rice, the governor said: “This is what President Buhari wants to stop because it has the nationalistic outlook to put an end to the declining rate of the naira to the dollar. When we stop importing rice, we will be adding value to our naira. It is key that you appreciate, at this point, the CBN governor and in particular, President Buhari, for it is a concept that we must support. The vision of trying to be self-sufficient in rice production is critical but in Cross River State, we will add our own dimension to it. The government of Cross River is going to set up a proper professional food bank, the very first in Nigeria.”
Continuing, the governor disclosed that “we are going to set up a food bank, one in each local government area, the major essence is to serve as the catallistic financial muscle that will pick up and buy off every single seed of rice that you will produce.”
Affirming that the state government will support CBN and the Federal government in ensuring that farmers don’t return to the mundane way of farming, Ayade said: “The farming we are going to do in Cross River State is going to be special because we are known for class, style and beauty”, adding that “we will provide an agricultural mechanism centre to provide an industrialized support for farming.”
He reiterated the resolve of his administration to support the CBN and the Federal government’s initiative in ensuring that farmers get all needed support required for a good yield that will lead to the inclusion of other farmers into the program in the nearest future.
“This conglomeration of agricultural value chain is coming in handy at a time when we have a government that is sensitive and focusing on agriculture, I believe that if we do this rice project successfully, the rubber plantation will come in, the cocoa, groundnut, banana and cotton will all come in and we have a new horizon for business men,” the governor said.