By Egbara Emmanuel Ikaba.
Blessed with abundant landmass and water resources, Cross river state agricultural sector is said to have a high potential for growth, but this was not being realised until recent time when the present State Government devoted its energy and resources to the sector.
As part of the strategy to realise its Agricultural Revolution Agenda (ARA), the state Government in 2018 commissioned the Rice industrial pack that has become the reference point in Africa and Beyond Agriculture, to pinpoint the gains of the Senator Benedict AYADE administration in the agriculture sector; the giant strides of the Agriculture Commissioner and a celebration of the resilience of Cross river farmers.
When Senator Benedict AYADE stated recently that Cross was on course towards meeting her rice import substitution target, some voices jeered at him for having the guts to make such ‘bold claims’.
Did the Governor set out to deceive Cross riverians? Or were the critics actuated by subjective interests?
I decided to take a tour to capture the story -with an intention of given more insight of the cross river state Agricultural revolution .
What my eyes beheld and my ears heard within this period (for want of a better way to put it) has brought to light the near criminality of the allegations and criticisms made against a Governor who, is close to being idolized by the generality of small holder rice farmers in Cross river who have benefited from the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme of the Benedict AYADE administration’s Agricultural Revolution Agenda (ARA).
As earlier stated, I visited the Rice seedlings factory and the sights which greeted my eyes testify to the competence, sincerity and professionalism of Senator Benedict AYADE.
I chronicled the golden tales of Rice rice farmers. From Yala ,Ogoja,Ikom,Abi,Bekwara,Boki and calabar where the Governor has set out the single, most profound, wholly Government owned, rice factory and plantation in the whole of Africa.
Beyond rice, this journey afforded me the opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of Ayade’s vision.
Based on the stark reality on the ground, one can reach no other conclusion than that this strategic policy intervention has had unprecedented impact on the lives of small holder farmers and their rural farmsteads.
Nothing I had heard or seen earlier prepared me for the rude shock which greeted my eyes.
There was rice farm in every direction we looked. In Ogoja, for instance, Compounds have quite literally been turned to rice farms. The youths of the town, speaking with excitement in their voices, boasted of the wealth they are getting from rice cultivation and vowed to re-dedicate themselves to more productivity.
Just in case you missed the point, permit me to be more direct:
The man behind this change, to my mind, is a real ‘performer, and if truth must be told, I think a lot of praise should be reserved for the people of Cross river state who entrusted him with that office and has provided immense resources for the transformation of our state’s rural economy.
With Ayade, Cross river Agricultural revolution comes alive.
The gospel of economic salvation cannot be preached without due regard to agricultural development, as the sector is the major and most certain path to economic growth and sustainability.
Cross river State has gained a reputation as the champion of the rice revolution in Nigeria.
Its experimentation with cultivation of rice has been hailed as a milestone in the effort of the federal government to engender production and consumption of homegrown agricultural produce.Cross river state reputation further soared with the recent establishment of the rice seedlings factory.