Samual Oyejola and Oyewale Oyelola
Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade has said the newly commissioned Calabar Rice Seedling Factory has the capacity to contribute about N50billion to the state economic annually.
The governor stated this on Tuesday while commissioning the automated rice seed and seedling factory in Cross Rivers State capital, Calabar.
He noted that the state was aware of the President’s focus which inspired the decision to invest in agro-allied industries which include the cocoa processing industry, banana Plantation, soya bean, calapharm, Instant noodles, rice mill, among others.
According to him: “These are all products of your discussion with me each time I have to meet with you and therefore, everything Cross River gives me and the entire people of Cross River credit. I say so because we have five million hectares of paddy soil in Nigeria, unfortunately, less than 1.7 million hectares of that used to be cultivated; but since you came in with your aggressive program on rice, the amount of cultivable land has grown to three million hectares and it is rising.
Ayade revealed that the country used to spend about N460 billion importing rice and an additional N60 billion in December, which according to him, “has come down dramatically and saved the pressure on the naira, courtesy of your innovative thinking.”
He pointed out that with the population statistics, Nigeria faces a “humongous challenge that can lead to absolute social disorder if you don’t take a deliberate step to ensure that we improve on the rice demand and rice supply chain.
“It was against this background that we realise that we needed to do something very specific on rice cultivation.” Ayade explained
The automated seed and seedling factory is believed to be the first in Africa and the seedlings from the factory would improve rice production and sufficiency nationwide.
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari who commissioned the factory commended the Cross Rivers state Governor over his contribution to Federal Government’s Agricultural revolution.