By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade defied torrential rainfall on Thursday to launch the accelerated agricultural development scheme (AADS) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the state with a view to make farming more interesting.
The scheme, Mr. Ayade said, is expected to put an end to the archaic farming methods as his administration strives to ensure that every value chain in the agricultural sector is exploited to create wealth.
“We want to put an end to that slavery farming; we want to put an end to that hardship, called farming. We want to make the farming digital; we want to make it interesting. That is why Cross River State is partnering with central bank,” Ayade said, adding that: “Today, we are here to launch a special program to assist you to be more aggressive in Cocoa and Maize farming.”
Ayade who described farmers in the state as “digital,” further explained that the partnership will see government provide the necessary infrastructure to make farming more interesting and less burdensome while at least one industry will be sited in each local government area to cater for one agro value chain.
He averred that: “We want to make sure that where you have farmland, it is no longer your responsibility to go and cut down the trees, do all the site preparation; it is now the responsibility of government through this infrastructure fund to provide roads and do your primary site preparation works.
“Gone are those days when our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and our sisters will go and break down and by the time they turn forty, they already start having waist pain.”
The scheme was unveiled in 2017 by the CBN with the Governor of the country’s apex bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele saying 360,000 youths between the ages of 18 and 35 will benefit.
And, the Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Professor Anthony Eneji said that over 11,000 have applied for the scheme already.
“For Cross River State, we have registered close to 12000 applicants who are interested in this program. More than nine thousand are in the maize value chain and more than 2,300 have indicated interest in the cocoa value chain,” Eneji said and promised that all machinery has been put in place to ensure its success.
The Director, development banking and finance of the CBN in the state, Mr. Aniefiok Umoren who represented Mr. Emefiele in his remarks explained the idea behind the scheme.
He said that: “The accelerated agricultural development scheme is to encourage agricultural production geared towards achieving food security and also create employment to our teeming youths and also to achieve economic diversification.”
Umoren who commended the state for its vision, assured the youths that: “It is not agriculture that you use to hear that our farmers were doing, you are also a testimony, you can witness the mechanised aspect of it.”
Furthermore, Umoren who said farming should be seen as a noble profession, disclosed the state is focusing on maize and cocoa even as he hoped for success in the program to ensure sustainability.
“The loan is going to be provided and we hope that with the presence of the anchor as off taker, we are going to make good use of the facility and pay back, so that the program will continue and will become sustainable,” he said.
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