The rice initiative of the Cross River State Government has started yielding results with the supply of rice seedlings to Delta and Bayelsa states.
Other states within the Southern region are next in line in the supply chain from the automated rice seeds and seedlings factory commissioned in June last year.
The supply forms part of the first batch of production worth N3billion of a N10.8 billion order for the southern states under the auspices of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) with the support of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking to newsmen at the Ayade Industrial park in Calabar, Cross River governor, Ben Ayade stated that the state will also provide all the seedlings support services for the states.
Giving insight on the feat which reflects a complete realisation of the vision for rice seeds and seedlings factory in Cross River, Ayade said, “We are gradually migrating into technology-based rice farming where we move from the cultivation of seeds to seedlings.”
“When you start with the seedlings, it gives you pleasure because you are already dealing with the seed that has already germinated and it is set to go into the soil and grow very fast, ” he added.
“As we do this harvest, we are conscious that harvest has to be done in the evening because that is when there is minimal destruction in terms of atmospheric temperature that affects the bio-stability of the seedlings,” The governor also explained.
He pointed out that the trucks delivering the seedlings will move all through the night to arrive at the states early hours of the day and plant the seedlings straight into the planter.
“We are also going to provide mechanisation support and planting services, so indeed what is happening is that Nigeria gradually is migrating from the primitive, rural and African method of rice farming to a civilised modern technology driven farming as our yield will increase,” the governor said.
Ayade who personally joined in loading the consignment into a wooden truck said that overtime, Cross River will lead the country into a situation where it will be the next exporter.
“The payment for the supply is not done by individual farmer or state, but coordinated under the RIFAN- CBN program, so that is the way to handle it. Before we make a supply to a state, we receive an order from RIFAN, go to that state, do a valuation of the preparedness of the people and farmers to receive, we then have a list of all the potential recipients farmers and on the basis of that, we compute that into our system and know the quantity that will be loaded to a particular state,” he further explained.
In his remark, the governor said that his joy is that the seedlings factory is now a reality and that the state now has a huge challenge of almost converting every single soil that is arable into rice farming owing to the huge demand.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the special commitment to have the project come into full realisation.
While encouraging young Nigerians to go into agriculture in order to become agropreneurs and millionaires from agriculture,
“I intend to make 18 green millionaires driven from agriculture, green because they were peasants before they met Ayade and become millionaires of agriculture, so every local government area in Cross River will have one millionaire made by Ayade,” he added.
MIKE ABANG, Calabar