Nigeria is the largest rice producing country in West Africa, but it is also the second largest importer of rice in the World. According to Index Mundi the total domestic milled rice consumption in Nigeria in 2017 was 6.7 million metric tonnes and rose to 6.9 million metric tonnes in 2018 showing a growth rate of 2.99 percent which means it will be at 7.5 million metric tonnes by 2023.
Improving rice yield through improved seeds and seedlings, upgrading the rice value chain through innovation and expanding processing are strategic ways to help Nigeria achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. This is where Nigeria has failed over the years until Sen. Ben Ayade, the visionary Governor of Cross River State came with the revolutionary investment in rice production in Nigeria.
The Digital Governor left no one in doubt that rice production in Nigeria is set for a revolution with his conception and investment in the first and largest seeds and seedlings factory in the continent. The seeds and seedlings factory which is located in the Ayade Industrial Park consist of a research center; seed receiving and storage section; the seedlings processing machines section; and the automated irrigation and seedling development section. The Governor, in pushing for mechanized farming, also acquired world class rice farming equipment like tractors, rice planters, rice combined harvesters and threshers. These are expected to take rice farming from the rudimentary level to an exciting mechanized level, thus making it attractive to modern farmers.
The Governor did not end here but also invested in the setting up of one of the largest modern vitaminized rice mill in Nigeria, located in the largest rice producing Local Government Areas in the State, Ogoja. Both the seeds and seedlings factory and the modern vitaminized rice mill have been completed and are set to bring change to rice production in the State and the Nation at large.
In his wisdom, the amiable Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade also set up a Special Project Vehicle (SPV), the Cross River State Rice Company and the Cross River State Rice Company Management Board to drive this laudable vision of achieving a revolution in rice production in the State. The Cross River State Rice Company Management Board is led by competent and experienced team leaders who understand the vision and are committed to delivering on set goals and strategic objectives of Sen. Ben Ayade, to achieve expected outcomes.
In line with this, the Management Board and the Company have unveiled the CrossRice Project to help citizens seize the opportunities put in place by His Excellency, Sen. Ben Ayade by getting involved in modern rice farming facilitated by the Company. It is expected that the CrossRice Project will inject about 0.25 million metric tonnes of rice by 2020 to the local production in Nigeria.
It is expected also that by 2025, the local rice production in the State will reach 1 million metric tonnes. At the prevailing market price of about N300, 000 per metric tonnes of rice in Nigeria, Cross River State will earn about three hundred billion Naira annually – from 2025 – which is more than its annual share of Federal allocation.
Starting with an initial number of 2500 in 2019, CrossRice will have 9500 people engaged in rice cultivation by 2024, thereby making more finances available for development of the State; creating more jobs and causing a major staple food to be abundantly available for the citizenry.
Furthermore, the Cross River State success will become a model for other States to follow thus bringing about the much needed rice revolution in the Nation, increase food security, reduce reliance on import and help achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
Mr. Chris Ogaidang is Chairman, Cross River State Rice Company Management Board and writes from Calabar.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Chris Ogaidang, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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