The Cross River State Rice Seeds and Seedlings factory which was commissioned few months ago by President Muhammadu Buhari has recorded its first seeds harvest.The factory with the capacity to generate over N14 billion as revenue annually to the state will process seeds and seedlings for hybrid rice cultivation for local consumption and export. The factory has the capacity to employ 3,000 youths out of the street.
Speaking shortly after witnessing the harvest at the Ayade Industrial Park in Calabar, the state governor Prof. Ben Ayade said: “Indeed what you witnessed today is a seed production and multiplication process but the process to which you have seen today is to provide hybrid seeds for the farmers to buy, cultivate and the result will be doubled yield compare to what they are known to harvest before now.”
According to the governor, ‘’Our focus which is in partnership with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) is to see how we can effectively drive the federal government’s rice value chain programme in such a manner that will create wealth among farmers as well as make farming attractive to lure younger ones for sustainability and continuation of the process even after we leave office.”
The governor while explaining the basics of the initiative, pointed out that, ‘this method of process seeds will help farmers prevent crop related diseases because here the seeds are produced using pure clay soil with zero nutrients devoid of micro organism or bacteria that may cause harm to seeds.”
Continuing Ayade explained: “What you see as you take your seedlings is that it comes out very clean and as neat as any thing because if you take the typical Nigerian soil, you won’t get this, which is why our yield is very low because the seed sack is often impregnated with lots of bacteria, the micro node is very heavy, so, even before the seeds would establish itself after planting, the nematodes and all bottom dwelling bacteria would start degrading and attacking the cotyledon directly and up take the nutrients that allow the catalyst of the seed to sprout.’’
Reasoning that restructuring the nation would help in creating wealth, Ayade maintained that a state like Cross River will be lagging when the restructuring of the nation is fully embraced especially with the loss of its oil wells, hence his focus is on industrialization drive including agriculture, using intellectual money and ensuring that the dream of the seaport and the 275km superhighway comes to bear in order to align with others that are today recognized as oil producing states.
Urging Cross Riverians to be patience with him Ayade said: “We are already preparing for the future. We have taken a quantum leap, taking a blind leap into the future. In the days before, they used to say, look before you leap but today, in a digital world you leap before you look, when you leap and see that you are leaping into danger and by God’s infinite mercy and your own smart thinking, you’ll know how to land in such a way that you will be safe and by the time you land you will pick the treasure.”
According to the South African consultant to the farm, Mr. Koos Mostert, “Today is quite a great moment in Cross River. We have today demonstrated to the world that indeed, our seeds and seedlings factory is ready to supply hybrid seeds and seedlings to rice farmers in Cross River and in Nigeria as a whole to ensure food security,” adding that, “Nigeria will have no need to import rice because in no distant time, Cross River will be flooding the country with their desired seeds and seedlings as the factory capacity is fully automated and suitable for mechanized farming.”
Mostert said the South African partnership with the state will ensure that the plant was fully supported with the necessary modern farming inputs to boost food sufficiency, employment generation for the teeming unemployed youths and young school leavers as it seeks to create wealth for the state and its citizenry.