By Jonathan Ugbal Government House Correspondent
In a bid to achieve self-sufficiency in Rice production and food security, Cross River governor, Senator Ben Ayade has directed all his aides to cultivate a minimum of 10 hectares of rice plantations with the Commissioners cultivate a minimum of 20 hectares.
With about 2,000 appointees, the directive if successfully implemented will see public office holders cultivate a total of around 20,000 hectares of rice plantation.
Ayade who disclosed this Thursday while on an assessment tour of rice farms in Obanliku and Bekwarra local government areas as part of his 5 day tour of the central and northern senatorial districts alongside Kebbi State Governor, Senator Atiku Bagudu and the governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele also said about 18,000 square kilometres of land has been acquired by the state government and will willingly donate to anyone who shows interest in rice farming.
I have directed that my 29 commissioners must own at least 20 hectares of rice farm each, while over 1,700 political appointees are expected to own and cultivate at least 10 hectares each to further boost rice production in this state and the country at large” said Ayade, who added that: “I am sure that by next year, given the number things we have put on ground, Cross River will have more than enough to feed and export.”
He commended the anchor borrower’s scheme of the Federal Government which aims at curbing youth restiveness and urged youths to continuously support the initiatives of government designed to improve food production among others.
Bagudu who is also the chairman, presidential committee on rice and wheat production expressed happiness at the level of implementation of the CBN anchor borrowers scheme in Cross River as over 73 cooperative groups and 2,183 farmers have already been mobilized in the northern part of the state for dry season farming as the country strives to get answers for issues concerning food security.
“”Today, Ayade is leading by example by personally cultivating his own rice farm that will contribute immensely to our effort of becoming self sufficient” Bagudu said.
On the scheme, he said that: “The aim of the program is therefore to create wealth and employment among the citizenry, be major exporter of rice and wheat and ultimately be self-sufficient in rice production before the end of the year.”
Also, Mr. Emefiele, who disclosed that CBN has spent over N3 billion in the program in Cross River so far, promised that: “Once we see the success achieved, we are ready and willing to bring in more money to the state.”
“The essence of the nationwide tour is to determine the level of successes recorded so far since the borrowers program was launched in Kebbi State last year” Emefiele said while commending Ayade’s effort according to him, will “serve as a motivational factor to Cross Riverians who are yet to key into this program to think of owning their personal farms and start growing rice and other essentials produce too.”
“This program is therefore a demonstration of the fact that we can grow our rice, not just the rice, cassava, yam, wheat and even poultry products can also be produced in large quantity because we have the capacity and so, there is no need to spend foreign currencies in importing these items into the country. We know, it is not going to be easy but going by the level of successes recorded so far, I can assure you that we shall overcome food crisis in the country” Emefiele said.
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