By Elijah Ugani
“We produce rice and sell to Ebonyi and Benue States and they will brandish it Abakiliki rice, this must stop, as an association, we will fix the price of rice and ensure that farmers are protected under this association.”
This is an assertion by Mr. Godwin Akwaji, Special Adviser to Governor Ayade on Revenue and Account Matters.
Mr. Akwaji made the assertion during a press briefing at the Ernest Etim (NUJ) Press Center Calabar recently.
The briefing which was by Cross River State Rice Farmers Association which the SA Revenue and Account Matters to Governor Ayade doubles as the Board of Trustees Chairman.
According to him, “Today is a very unique day for us in Cross River, over the years, we have being producing rice, we haven’t had a body that foster rice production, no wonder the State lost her position as a major rice producer in the country, and so we have come together to foster development.”
Adding that, “This was because farmers never had a voice, there was no association of this kind and so farmers were left at the mercy of the Bank of Agriculture which is the only bank that interfaces with farmers. With this association, no one will take for granted our right.” He said.
On the road map of the association, the Secretary of the Board of Trustee, Mr. Udo Umoren noted that “As at now, this association has a total of 12, 366 registered rice farmers. After today, we will move to the Local Governments and wards to inaugurate executives and even at zonal levels.”
Stating that, “We will ensure that rice produced will be recorded at the Local Government level which will be forwarded to the zonal level and forwarded to the State to enable us track the quantity produced in Cross River.”
On his part, the Head of Development Finance Office, CBN Calabar and Chairman, PMT State Anchor Borrowers Program Dr. Aniefiok Umoren, assured farmers of improved methods of loan release and improved methods of repayment and regretted the manner at which farmers were treated by the Bank of Agric.
He however condemned the attitude of most farmers who resort to falsehood and complained about the inability of the seedlings to germinate and promised to improve the services to be provided during the next batch.
On repayment of the previous loans, Umoren called on farmers who collected input during the last batch to commence repayment to avoid being blacklisted.
The association was registered with Cooperate Affairs Commission on the 24th April 2018 with registration number CAC-1101126.
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