By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade flagged off the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Program For Rice Value Chain Friday in Odukpani and disclosed Cross River aims at introducing systems and mechanisms that will make farming pleasurable to Cross Riverians.
Ayade who lauded the federal government for introducing the initiative said the borrowers scheme in Cross River State was the result of consistent pressure on the Governor of CBN and the vision of the state was not just to be self sufficient but to also use rice farming as a means to reconstruct the economy of the state as it is part of a wider Agro approach with the Banana, Maize and other plantations coming on board.
“When we start producing rice to a point of glut, there must be a mechanism, a financial muscle that must off take this product. That is why Cross River State today is using this opportunity to officially announce that the state is going to set up a proper professional food bank, one in each local government area” Ayade said, adding that; “The major essence of the food bank is to serve as a catalytic financial muscle that will pick up, buy up, take up every single grain of rice that you will produce. That way we are guaranteed a steady income.”
Ayade who said the state will build Agricultural exchange centers pointed out that the farming that will be done in the state will be “special” as Cross Riverians are known for their “beauty, elegance and style”. He said that for the reasons mentioned, he cannot allow Cross Riverians return to mundane farming methods as the agro centers will provide mechanistic support to the farmers which he said was one of the reasons why he spent 3 weeks in farms in Taiwan and Thailand.
“Farming is pleasure, Farming is like honeymoon, farming is good, farming is excellent, there is nothing much more exciting than putting a seed n the soil and seeing it grow to maturity. It is like nurturing a child. The spiritual vitality of such an offspring growing into a full adult that will then in biological sense, begin to provide energy for mankind is so excellent.
“Therefore, from the Negro-spiritual perspective, it is also a good thing to do. For those who thought of the way we are going to farm, we are going to have Agric cities and Agric towns. As you take your rice and go back home, we are going to ensure that all the support you need, particularly from the point of equipment, factory support, machinery and all the factorization that you so required will be supported by the state government because the state government must support CBN and indeed (the) federal government to ensure that you dont farm the way our fathers did.
“I don’t want a farmer who farms in tears but you must farm with pleasure” Ayade said.
Earlier, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele who was represented by the controller of the Cross River State branch of the country’s apex bank, Dr. Graham Kalio said that Ayade had put everything in place to ensure that the state surpasses the performance of other states across the federation and assured that with the plans perfected, the state will be self sufficient and start exporting in about 3 years.
Also, the Agric Commissioner, Professor Anthony Eneji disclosed that more than 12 thousand people have registered for the programme, a task which he described as “lofty” but quickly added that the necessary machinery has been put in place to handle the situation.
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