By CrossRiverWatch admin
Cross River State governor, Senator Ben Ayade has described the state as a digital state with a digital governor and reiterated his promise to Cross Riverians that his administration is taking rice production as one of the key projects that they will showcase in agriculture in his effort to diversify the state economic base.
Governor Ayade who just returned from an investment tour in Asia, was speaking this evening at the launch of the CBN Anchor Borrowers Program in the Kebbi State capital, Birnin – Kebbi by President Buhari.
The CBN Anchor Borrowers Program is an intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, designed as a one-stop-solution for agricultural value chain by creating economic linkages between farmers and processors to not only ensure a clear agricultural output but to also reduce dependence on imported food, create millions of jobs and lifting thousands of small holder farmers out of poverty.
Under the program, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is setting aside 40billion Naira out of the 220 billion Naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund to be given to farmers at single digit interest rate of maximum nine per cent per annum.
Governor Ayade spoke to Channels Television after the program in an interview monitored by CrossRiverWatch.
Why are you hear today?
Cross River is where rice started in Nigeria again.
I like it when leaders say they want to lift Nigerians out of poverty. You listened to the President’s speech…
The President was very clear; about 6.1millions metric tonnes of rice is the demand for Nigeria, and only 2.6million of that is produced locally, therefore, Mr. President’s focus is to ensure that, that 6.1million metric tonnes of rice that is the demand quotient of Nigeria will be produced locally and of course once that is achieved, it will reduce the demand of foreign exchange and therefore shore up our foreign reserves and I think this is a wonderful project by Mr. President and I think he is in the right direction.
I listened to the Minister of Agriculture pay tribute to the former Agric Minister but he laid emphasis on corruption, how do you take it?
One thing is that I must appreciate the Federal Minister of Agriculture for admitting indeed that there were a lot of innovations that were brought in by the former Agric Minister however, the issue of corruption that was mentioned is endemic and it is a Nigerian issue and so I really appreciate the Minister of Agric for his purity and sincerity, but of course it gives us the basis to understand that the mirabilis of corruption is actually heavy, therefore in this government, as we set our sight on this focus of the CBN Anchor Borrowers Program, to focus on putting money in the hands of small farmers, to increase the number of people who are growing feeds so that the major millers and off takers become big and strong enough to take, we must focus on corruption, control it and ensure that those who will participate in the whole of this value chain will take away corruption, import what is only required and what will increase our productivity in terms of fertilizer and other inputs.
Of course as the Governor of Cross River state, I’ve just returned from Thailand which is the headquarters of rice production in the world. And we’ve signed partnerships with Thai Africa that is coming it massively to bring a seedling research center for rice in Nigeria. And when Cross River state starts, of course you know Cross River starts with this panache, elegance and class. As a digital state with a digital governor, we are certainly taking rice as one of our key projects that we are going to showcase in agriculture. That is why I am making a first class professor of agriculture as the Commissioner of Agriculture. He made a first class in agronomy, he is a distinguished international scholar. And of course being a professor in China and Japan and coming back to Cross River state to focus on rice, you will definitely know that Cross River state is prepared to make a difference.