By Margaret John
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has rained accolades on the governor of Cross River state, Senator Ben Ayade and commended him for keying into the federal government’s vision of diversifying the economy saying Ayade has become a reference point in his administration’s agricultural revolution.
The President was speaking at the commissioning of the multi billion Naira Cross River State Rice Seeds and Seedlings factory in Calabar on Tuesday.
President Buhari said the factory is a testament of his administrations’ giant strides in diversifying the economy and described the factory as “a marvel to behold.”
He said: “When we assumed the reins of leadership of our dear country, this administration launched a zero-oil economic roadmap as a way of making our country less dependent on oil, while encouraging investments in other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture.
“I am happy that Governor Ayade keyed into that policy and has today become one of the reference points in our agricultural revolution effort.
“Indeed, this factory speaks loudly about the giant strides we are making in agriculture as a country. This monumental project for which we are gathered here today is a marvel to behold.”
President Buhari said he was optimistic that the factory will create employment and that the improved, high yield disease resistant seeds and seedlings from the factory will double national yield and directed relevant MDAs to partner with the factory through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Program to supply seeds to farmers across the country.
“What we expect is that Seedlings from this factory will improve rice yield from the current national average of 3 to 4 tons per hectare to about 9 to 10 tons per hectare, thus helping to ensure rice sufficiency in the country and doing away with imports and saving foreign exchange for Nigeria.
“The factory is also targeted at creating employment opportunities for the unemployed, I have no doubt that this rice factory will also be a veritable platform for income generation for the people of Cross River State.
“I therefore, enjoin relevant Federal Government Agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through its Anchor Borrower’s Programme, to partner with Cross River in the area of supply of seedlings to our farmers.”
While concluding, he praised the Governor for seeing the future and initiating projects that will improve the economic base of the State.
The Cross River State Rice Seeds and Seedlings factory is an automated plant prodicing high yielding vitaminized and disease resistant rice seeds and seedlings.
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