The rice revolution initiative of Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade, has started yielding results with the supply of seedlings, Thursday, to Bayelsa and Delta States.
Other states within the South South region are next in line in the supply chain from the automated rice seeds and seedlings factory commissioned in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The supply forms part of the first batch of production worth N3billion of a N10.8 billion order for the southern states under the auspices of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) with the support of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking to newsmen at the Ayade Industrial park in Calabar, Cross River governor, Prof Ben Ayade disclosed that “the state will also provide all the seedlings support services for the southern part of Nigeria.”
The feat which reflects a full realisation of the vision for a rice seeds and seedlings factory in Cross River, according to Ayade is aimed at “gradually migrating into a technology-based rice farming where we move from the cultivation of seeds to seedlings,” adding, “when you start with the seedlings, it gives you pleasure because you are already dealing with the seeds that have already germinated and are set to go into the soil and grow very fast.”
The governor also explained that “as we do this harvest, we are conscious that harvest has to be done in the evening because that is when there is minimal destruction in terms of atmospheric temperature that affects the seedlings.”
Other support services offered by the seedling factory according to Ayade, “are mechanisation support and planting services, so indeed what is happening is that Nigeria is gradually migrating from the primitive, rural and African method of rice farming to a civilised modern technology driven farming as your yield will go up, your size of land will be less with maximum yield and your per hectare will move from two tons to ten tons per hectare.”
Ayade who personally joined in loading the consignment into the trucks said “overtime, Cross River will lead us into a situation where Nigeria will be the next exporter of rice because Bayelsa and Delta are fully ready to receive our seedlings and I am sure that in no distant time, Rivers, Edo and other states in the Niger Delta will follow.
“The payment for the supply is not done by individual farmer or state, but coordinated under the RIFAN- CBN program, so that is the way to handle it. Before we make a supply to a state, we receive an order from RIFAN, go to that state, do a valuation of the preparedness of the people and farmers to receive the seedlings, we then have a list of all the potential recipients farmers and on the basis of that, we compute that into our system and know the quantity that will be loaded to a particular state,” the governor intimated.
Continuing, he said: “My joy is that the seedlings factory is now a reality. Cross River has a huge challenge of almost converting every single soil that is arable into rice farming because the demand is huge. I am also happy that Nigeria has a great opportunity to see us do the commercial harvesting and now going into full planting to support Bayelsa and others do their rice value chain.”
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the special commitment to have the project come into full realisation.
While encouraging young Nigerians to go into agriculture in order to become agro-preneurials and millionaires from agriculture, Ayade said: “The automated system I have brought is fantastic and I am proud that it will also change the story completely in Nigeria.”
He further added: “I intend to make 18 green millionaires driven from agriculture, green because they were peasants before they met Ayade and become millionaires of agriculture, so every local government area in Cross River will have one millionaire made by Ayade.”