President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday described Cross River State as a reference point in the agriculture revolution of his administration.
He spoke in Calabar while inaugurating the state seedlings and seed multiplication factory.
The President said the project was in line with his administration’s zero oil economic roadmap.
He said: “When we assumed the rein of leadership 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.”
He added: “The factory, said to be the first in Africa, is an automated plant with a capacity to produce high-yielding vitaminised and disease-resistant rice seedlings which will improve rice yield from the current national average of three to four tons per hectare to about nine 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.”
Ayade said the state was aware of the President’s focus which inspired the decision to invest in agro-allied industries including 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.
The governor called for a standing ovation for the President, saying: “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 programme on rice, the amount of cultivable land has grown to three million hectares and it is rising.