By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
The Bank of Agriculture has expressed its readiness to partner and assist the Cross River government in large scale Banana production amongst several others in its bid to deliver on its mandate of financing the agro sector to ensure food security for the nation.
The Managing Director of the Bank, Professor Dan-Bala Danju disclosed this earlier today in an interactive meeting with Cross River’s governor Benedict Ayade where he also disclosed plans were in place to ensure the state benefits from the over 200 billion Naira set aside by the country’s apex bank to be accessed by states for agricultural purposes.
Danju averred that the bank will readily partner the state due to “the enthusiasm and passion you (governor Ayade) have showed towards agricultural development which encouraged me to leave other engagements in Abuja to come here.”
He stressed that the country currently faces an existential problem due to the relative performance of agricultural yield and called for more financing for the sector to ensure the true diversification of the nation’s economy.
Ayade, on his part urged the Bank of Agriculture to see Cross River as a unique state to partner with and called for a rethink in the methods and mechanism used in agro business.
Describing Cross River as a state that is very unique, the governor averred that the state is focusing on a few major crops which are essentially traditional to the state.
These he said, includes banana, maize, rice, corn and cocoa. He also tasked the MD to “give us attention for this four crops and give us a target. Work and identify with us, structure a facility that does not comes to the state in Naira”.
Pointing out that the state is the only one in Nigeria with almost all the geographic belts for various crops to be grown, Ayade queried “how can I sit on a state with such vast resources and say we are poor? It will be sterility of ideas.”
He said Nigeria has lost it due to an attitude problem where everyone focused on oil, stressing the various programs so far failed to address the problem which left the hopes very dim.
“We have an attitude problem where there is so much sophistry because of so much certification in university education without corresponding hands on skills to sustain agriculture at the level that passion and core competence required to get us there.”
Ayade further lamented a situation where farmers are allowed to bear the brunt of production which does not encourage high productivity and called for a technologically driven agro sector to increase yield due to the scarce availability of arable land to cultivate.
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