Cross River state government Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) for the supply of multi- billion Naira rice seeds to farmers in Nigeria.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Okon Nyong Owuna signed for the state while CBN representative, Tony Ifechukwu signed on behalf of the apex bank.
RIFAN National President, Alhaji Aminu Muhammad Goronyo signed on behalf of the association.
The event took place at the Executive chamber of the governor’s office, Calabar.
Speaking on the occasion, the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade reiterated his commitment to ending unemployment in the state through Agro- industrialisation policy of his administration.
The governor disclosed that his administration is to produce about 160,000 rice farmers with government assisting them with all the farm inputs, including clearing the forest, preparing the land, leveling the land, providing the seedlings.
“We need to clear more forests to expand rice production. We need the support of CBN, we need the support of RIFAN. CBN has a major role to play in ensuring peace and stability in this country through food security.
“Agriculture is one of the major means to knock out unemployment. Today, we are signing a multi- billion Naira contract for the supply of rice seedlings to rice farmer.”
Ayade explained that his administration made huge investment in rice production, including the establishment of the rice seeds and seedlings factory in Calabar, tractorization, etc after researching into why other countries were doing well in rice production while Nigeria was lagging behind.
“We felt that we must remove the burden that characterised rice farming in Nigeria, so I had to copy the Taiwanese and Malaysian models where all the inputs are not borne by farmers. We sought to attack the corruption that had attended rice production in Nigeria,” the governor further said.
While thanking the CBN for putting money to support rice production in the country, Ayade quipped: “Today is a sign of good things to come, as we are launching what we call G-Money to produce 1000 millionaires from rice production. Once Nigeria is able to feed Africa, hunger will reduce, poverty will reduce.”
On his part, Ifechukwu who represented the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele at the event commended Ayade’s agro- Industrialisation drive saying he was interested in Cross River becoming an economically viable state.
He noted that the indexes were all there to realise the goals.
“Governor Ayade is a partner in rice production. CBN is committed to ensuring that the Cocoa processing mill is activated this year. We also want to ensure that what has been achieved in the oil sector can also be replicated in the oil palm sector.
“The signing of the MoU is therefore, a good thing to come out of Africa. It signals the immediate implementation of the agenda of RIFAN,” Ifechukwu said.
On a similar vein, RIFAN National President, Alhaji Aminu Muhammad Goronyo praised Governor Ayade for his giant strides in rice production and what he has done to support rice farmers, saying his effort was exceptional.
“Your efforts to make Nigeria great is exceptional. Your effort is too big for Cross River alone. Nigeria needs you to make it grow. You are one of the best in the country. You are highly brilliant,” Goronyo said.
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