Determined to ensure food security in the country, Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade, has announced that the stateâ€™s Rice City project will roll out its first batch of seedlings between December this year and January 2018.
Ayade disclosed this, while on an inspection of ongoing work at the project site along with a consortium from Thailand and Taiwan.
His words: â€œRecently, our farmers complained that most of their seeds could not germinate and we tried to carry out a research to know why the seeds could not kick off. Now we have come to a point where we understand clearly that some of their seeds have been under cool storage for too long, lost their capacity to germinate. So, what we have to do is to build the first ever seeds and seedlings factory in Africa, in partnership with a consortium from Thailand and Taiwan, working with the Irish design and construction team.â€
According to Ayade, the factory which will take off between December and January 2018, will produce fresh seeds that are vitaminised and prepared to grow as soon as they are done,â€ adding that, â€œin the next CBN Anchor Borrowers program in the rice value chain, Cross River State will be a major input of seed supplier as our seeds will be young and refreshed because the younger the seeds, the higher the chances of germination.â€
The governor enjoined Nigerians to â€œwatch out and see the seeds and seedlings that will come out from Cross River State,â€ affirming that the rice mill in Ogoja at the northern senatorial district of the state also has a vitaminisation plant that will introduce vitamins into the rice so that when kids eat, they will grow taller, healthier and knowledgeable.â€
Throwing further light on the proposed Ogoja Rice Mill, Ayade said: â€œYou will see a new technique of rice planting, you will no longer see anybody hold a hoe, all you will see is technology-driven,â€ adding that â€œeven in the farm, you will sit on a tractor and drive in a swamp, there is a tractorisation and mechanisation unit that will support farmers so that they donâ€™t toil anymore but from their pockets.â€
On measures put in place to address the expected huge traffic from African countries who will be patronising the factory, the governor explained: â€œThat is why I decided to locate the factory close to the airport and I have also made provision for its expansion through the huge landmass you see here because we also have a training school for rice value chain where people from the neighbouring countries will come and be trained on rice manufacturing, rice growth and engineering.â€
Applauding President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s support to Cross River through the agricultural chain programs and his directives for Nigerians to return to farming, Ayade pointed out that â€œwe must go into agriculture with technology because there is no young graduate that is going to carry a hoe and a matchet to clear and do tilling any more.â€
Insisting that Cross Riverians must follow the presidentâ€™s directives to own farms, the governor intimated that it was in line with this that his administration is reviewing land laws to enable the citizenry have easy access to land for farming.