By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The Cross River State government on Monday harvested for the first time, rice seeds from its automated rice seedlings and seed manufacturing factory popularly referred to as rice city in Calabar.
The governor, Senator Ben Ayade witnessed the event and described it as a feat for the state even as he expressed hope that the project will aid in increasing the revenue profile of the state.
This comes on the heels of the commencement of the distribution of the water pumps to twelve thousand rice farmers in the state for the purpose of irrigation.
And, Mr. Ayade who told government house correspondents recently that the state will be partnering with a subsidiary of Indian auto giants, TATA Africa Holdings Proprietary Limited for the supply of industrial hardware, disclosed that the first phase of the equipment supply will be basically to aid the state’s rice revolution initiative as the third farming season takes off in October with the broader agreeable scope that will cover other signature projects of the administration like the superhighway and deep seaport.
“We are partnering the firm so as to take away the burden of primitivism in farming in the state to a modern digital farming,” Ayade said shortly after conducting the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the firm, Mr. Len Brandt and other members of his team round some critical infrastructural facilities in the Calabar metropolis.
Continuing, Ayade said, “I think this partnership will add great value to our agricultural development efforts because we are bringing in modern equipment to aid farming processes across the state or say mechanized farming to add value and create wealth.”
He asserted that, “We are also stretching the partnership agreement for the supply of equipment to cover other critical infrastructural developments like the superhighway and Bakassi deep seaport.”
Ayade further disclosed that, “Land clearing, preparation works including full landscape of transportation particularly urban mass transportation scheme was part of the terms captured in our discourse and in the fullness of time you will see all of these rolled out and map out exhaustively and be delivered accordingly.”
Offering insight on how the supplies will be funded, Ayade hinted that, “In terms of payment method, we are trying to streamline, so you will see some coming in form of an ISPO and others will come by the instrumentality of the partnership.”
Assuring the citizenry of the anticipated benefits from the partnership he maintained that, “As we enter into this agreement today, the business will change, agricultural pattern will change and the partnership will be very strong and Cross River State will intensify her focus to limited equipment scope for a true sense of wealth.
“That’s the way to go, technology in a warm embrace with African farmers that will change the yield and farming attitudes especially among the young ones who are not will to go into farming because it is manual, cumbersome and old fashioned and meant for illiterates which of course was the mode of farming by our grandparents and our grandchildren cannot go the same path way and the change starts here and now,” the governor added.
Earlier, Mr. Brandt who was visibly excited at the level of development in the state especially in the area of agriculture commended the governor saying, “Ayade is one among a few Nigerians that truly understand what will make a difference in this sector.
“He does not only focus on the farmers but has gone a step further to empower them and ensure that what they harvest at the end is worth the trouble.”
He said in line with the partnership, his company is to provide “mechanization equipment with the view to experiencing the modernized farming methods together in such a manner that will be mutually beneficial.
“We are moving in soon because we want to change the farming method that is being practiced in this part of Nigeria and introduce modern ways that ensure improved yield which will translate to eradicating poverty.
“Ayade wants to mechanize agriculture and in my several years of experience in this area, this is the best way to create wealth. I commend his vision and commitment to deliver the desired dividends to his people. He does not talk too much but acts, which is why I appreciate him and we are willing to support the state,” Brand explained.
Speaking further, he said: “If we can bring technology to assist the farmers as envisaged by Ayade, we will up their yields tremendously and when the yields are up, the outcome will be drastic reduction in poverty among the citizenry.”
He commended the governor’s leadership style which according to him, “is not just about let’s do business, the focus is on what can be done to better the lots of others and that is why we have agreed to get along with the state.”
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