President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned an automated rice seed and seedling plant, a project of the Cross River State government, and lauded Gov Ben Ayade for keying into federal government’s zero-oil economic roadmap which seeks to make the country less dependent on oil.
The president who made the remarks, Tuesday while commissioning the project during a working visit to Cross River, enumerated other investments in agriculture, initiated by the Ayade-led administration to include ongoing construction of an ultramodern rice mill in Ogoja and the cotton farm in Yala.
According to him, Ayade’s other projects include the cocoa processing plant in Ikom, the Banana plantation in Odukpani, the feed mill and yellow maize farm in Obubra as well as the ultramodern poultry farm for export of frozen chicken.
His words; “I must say that visiting the state for the second time within three years in connection with people -oriented and flagship projects of Governor Ayade is heart warming.
“When we assumed the rein of leadership of our dear country, our administration launched a zero-oil economic roadmap as a way of making our country less dependent on oil, while encouraging investments in other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture.
“I am happy that Governor Ayade keyed into that policy and has today become the reference point in our agricultural revolution effort. That we are gathered here today is no doubt a determination woven through to precision and a glowing testament to the fact that the policy is working.
“Indeed, this factory speaks loudly about the giant strides we are making in agriculture as a country. Governor Ayade has indeed shown that he is indeed a Digital Governor.
“Seedlings from this factory will improve rice yield from the current national average of 3 to 4 tons per hectare to about 9 to 10 tons per hectare, thus helping to ensure rice sufficiency in the country and doing away with import and saving foreign exchange for Nigeria.”
Buhari believed that the revolution in agriculture in Cross River would “create employment opportunities for the unemployed and a veritable platform for income generation for Cross River” and believed that the factory would go a long way in placing Nigeria on the global rice production map
He enjoined relevant Federal Government Agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to partner Cross River in the area of supply of seedlings to farmers through its anchor borrower’s programme.
Speaking, Gov Ayade said his agricultural policy was improving the economy of the State and that despite its meagre federal allocation, his government was paying salaries of civil servants before end of each month.
Ayade believed that not many days from now, all his strides in agriculture would yield unpredictable results which, he said, would impact not only the State but the country as a whole.