President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday, commissioned the Cross River State
seedlings and seed multiplication factory in Calabar which he described as
The President said the project was in line with his administration’s zero
oil economic roadmap with Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade becoming
a reference point in that vision.
His words: “When we assumed the rein of leadership of our dear country, our
administration launched a zero-oil economic roadmap as a way of making our
country less dependent on oil, while encouraging investments in other
sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture.
“I am happy that Governor Ayade keyed into that policy and has today become
the reference point in our agricultural revolution effort.”
While emphasising the significance of the event, President Buhari said:
“That we are gathered here today is no doubt a determination woven through
to precision and a glowing testament to the fact that the policy is
The President who lauded Ayade for the giant stride and for keying into his
agricultural policy, further noted that the factory spoke loudly about his
administration’s strides in agriculture, adding that it’s capacity to
produce high yield and disease resistant seeds, will aid in job creation
and earn revenue for the state.
“The factory, said to be the first in Africa, is an automated plant with a
capacity to produce high yielding vitaminized and disease resistant rice
seedlings,” Buhari said.
On the impact of the seedlings factory on the economy, the President said:
“Seedlings from this factory will improve rice yield from the current
national average of 3 to 4 tons per hectare to about 9 to 10 tons per
hectare, thus helping to ensure rice sufficiency in the country and doing
away with import and saving foreign exchange for Nigeria.
“Besides creating employment opportunities for the unemployed, I have no
doubt that this rice factory will also be a veritable platform for income
generation for Cross River.”
Continuing, he said: “I am further told that the factory has the capacity
to meet both foreign and domestic demands. This will go a long way in
placing Nigeria on the global rice production map.”
He directed relevant federal parastatals to partner with the state even as
he hoped that the factory, alongside other agro-based industries being
built by the state will inspire other leaders to key into his vision of
ensuring food security for the country. “I therefore, enjoin relevant
Federal Government Agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the
Central Bank of Nigeria, through its anchor borrower’s programme, to
partner with Cross River in the area of supply of seedlings to our farmers.
“With Governor Ayade’s other investments in agriculture such as the ongoing
construction of an ultramodern rice mill in Ogoja, the cotton farm in Yala,
the cocoa processing plant in Ikom and the Banana plantation in Odukpani,
the feed mill and yellow maize farm in Obubra as well as the ultramodern
poultry farm for export of frozen chicken amongst others, it is clear that
Cross River has found a pathway to decouple itself from over reliance on
“It is evident also that by conceiving projects such as this, Governor
Ayade has a keen eye for tomorrow; focusing on projects that are building a
new economic base for the state rather than projects with short term
benefits for the purpose of making cheap political gains.
“It is therefore, my hope and expectation that other states that are yet to
fully take advantage of the zero-oil economic roadmap of the federal
government will take a cue from Cross River State.
“Once again, I commend Governor Ayade for this laudable initiative as our
country makes steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food
In his address, Governor Ayade said the state was aware of the President’s
focus which inspired the decision to invest in agro-allied industries which
include the cocoa processing industry, banana Plantation, soya bean,
calapharm, Instant noodles, rice mill, among others.
“These are all products of your discussion with me each time I have to meet
with you and therefore, everything Cross River gives me and the entire
people of Cross River credit,” Ayade said.
Ayade subsequently called for a standing ovation for the President, a
directive which he explained: “I say so because we have five million
hectares of paddy soil in Nigeria, unfortunately, less than 1.7 million
hectares of that used to be cultivated; but since you came in with your
aggressive program on rice, the amount of cultivable land has grown to
three million hectares and it is rising.
He disclosed that the country used to spend about NGN460 billion importing
rice and an additional NGN60 billion in December, which according to him,
“has come down dramatically and saved the pressure on the naira, courtesy
of your innovative thinking.”
The governor posited that with the population statistics, Nigeria faces a
“humongous challenge that can lead to absolute social disorder if you don’t
take a deliberate step to ensure that we improve on the rice demand and
rice supply chain.
“It was against this background that we realise that we needed to do
something very specific on rice cultivation.”
Justifying the Modernization of rice production, Ayade argued that the old
way of preserving rice seeds was outdated and counterproductive as the
yield was always low, hence the need to go scientific in seed
multiplication and preservation which made it “unacceptable for people to
go into farming.”
“We needed to change and bring agriculture into a digital age and nexux. It
is against that background that Cross River State under my watch and based
on your advice, we focused on automated rice seed and seedling factory,”
he said, adding: “We are just not stopping at providing seeds and
seedlings, we have gone further to also set up the first vitaminised rice
In a bid to bring optimal value for the rice produced, the governor said it
will also serve as a raw material for the instant noodles factory being set
up by the state government.
On the challenges of financing the projects, Ayade said: “There is a new
concept which is not just doing business with other peoples money, the new
concept in Cross River now is called intellectual money. It is that
intellectual money we have adopted to bring all these to reality.”
Soliciting the support of the President, Ayade added that “We have done all
we can, we can only pass it to the father of the country. This is your
property, this is your product, this is a product of your intellectual
The president, accompanied by the governors of Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu,
his Abia state counterpart, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu; deputy governor of Akwa
Ibon State, Elder Moses Okon, the head of civil service of the federation,
Mrs. Winnifred Oyo-Ita; Niger Delta Affairs minister, Mr. Usani Usani and
his Transport counterpart, Rotimi Amarachi, among others, were then led
on a tour of the complex by Governor Ayade amidst cheers from the large
crowd that poured out to witness the historic occasion.