The leadership of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has said it would collaborate and utilise the newly installed rice seed multiplication facility in Calabar to boost rice production in the country.
The association also commended the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, for what it described as his giant step to boost rice cultivation and production in the country.
According to the association, the effort of Ayade would make the country self-sufficient in rice in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In their separate remarks, shortly after being conducted round the rice seedling plant and other supporting facilities at the Ayade Industrial Park by the governor in Calabar, the leadership of the farmers association expressed amazement that the state had procured and installed such modern machines to enhance seedling production.
The body therefore called on other states to key into the initiative for food security.
The National Vice President of the association, Mr. Segun Atto, who led the delegation to the seedling plant said: â€œWhat we have seen so far is very incredible because this is the first time I am seeing this type of thing in the whole country.â€
According to him, â€œWe are so impressed with what we are seeing here today. When we were invited to come and witness what is going to happen here, we never envisaged seeing this kind of facilities but in my short comment, I want them to keep it up, for other state to emulate.â€
On how the group intends to partner the state government, Atto stated: â€œIn terms of partnership with the state, we have a lot of areas to benefit from each other. The first benefit is that whatever seed they are producing here, we are ready to partner them and we will off take some of them for our own multiplication so that it can be circulated around the country.
â€œWe will also like to ensure that whatever they produce, they should make it agro-ecological production so that each section of the country will know which type of rice they will cultivate in future,â€ he added.
The vice president further hinted: â€œWe are also going to tell others that this is what we have seen here in Cross River State and we want it to go on like that because if we have this type of thing like two or three in other state, I think Nigeria with 198 million population will survive the hunger situation including Africa.â€
On his part, the Vice President North-west, Muhammed, who hinted that about 60 per cent of rice consumed in the country is currently being produced by them, stated: â€œWith what I am seeing here and if this industry is sustained, the benefits will be great not only for Cross River State but Nigeria at large.â€
While urging the federal government to take a cue and replicate such centers across the country, Muhammed stated: â€œI donâ€™t want Cross River State to see this as their own, itâ€™s a national thing because hunger has no boundary and with this multiplication with quality seeds, you must have a very high yield and when you have a high yield, you have enough to feed yourselves, the country and enough to export.â€
Commenting on the vitaminised rice which the plant will be rolling out soon, Mohammed noted: â€œWhat we have here in Cross River is good because it has the right nutrient content and it is disease resistance which is far higher than what we currently have in the market. All we need to do is multiply and produce as much as possible across the country.â€
He further added: â€œWith what we have here, I am confident that even if there is hunger anywhere in the world, there wonâ€™t be hunger in Nigeria.â€
National Secretary on milling and processing, RIFAN, Alhaji Idris Isa, who was overwhelmed by the sophistication of the facility, pointed out that â€œFrom what I am seeing in Cross River, I am relocating from Katsina to set up my farm here in Calabar because all I need to support my rice farming is right her at the door step and we are happy that this is actually real and is happening here in Nigeria.â€
â€œI will advise other states to copyright what Cross River is doing because it will definite boost the rice value chain initiative of the Federal Government and make the country food sufficient as envisioned by Mr. President.â€
Also speaking, the National Secretary of RIFAN, Mr. Livinus Ngwuanu, maintained that the state was moving in the right direction, as according to him, what Ayade has put in place is in line with what is in operation in advanced countries where there is sustainable and enhanced rice production.
â€œMost of these countries with high population density are the greatest producers of rice and these are the methods they used in achieving that.
â€œI was surprised to see such modern equipment in Calabar fully installed and waiting to be used for seed production which is basic in rice cultivation all over the world.
â€œIt is a good foundation because once you get a sound seed, you will be sure of high yield which in turn will bring about high revenue in a mechanised form. It makes farming attractive and interesting to the young ones who will love to mount these machines that are fully air conditioned.
â€œI sincerely commend Ayade for this vision because this is what we need in Nigeria and when we go back to Abuja, we shall tell others about the good news and we will surely visit here again.â€