Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has lamented that the state is struggling to move N8.5 billion worth of rice seedlings ordered by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which having since matured enough for transplant are destined for farmers across the country.
At the Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory in Calabar, Ayade disclosed to journalists that the bank had placed its order for the Cross River rice seeds and seedlings before the outbreak of coronavirus for later delivery to states.
The state government received CBN’s massive N8.5bn billion order, intended for use in the present dry and wet seasons’ rice farming, through the Anchor Borrowers Program and in partnership with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, (RIFAN).
The governor stated that the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus across the globe and in Nigeria, followed by the subsequent lockdown of the country, has prevented the transportation of the seedlings to the various states of Nigeria.
He urged CBN and the federal government to appreciate the value of the seedlings’ life by ensuring that the billions of naira worth of rice seedlings are not wasted, while adding that the seedlings were brought into this world by President Buhari’s policy on rice.
Ayade asserted : “Federal government has to do something to protect the lives of these young seedlings, looking so fragile, so beautiful, so fresh and willing to change the landscape of agriculture, particularly the rice beneficiation process.”
He called on the whole of Nigeria to rise to this occasion, given that the coronavirus has begun to impact the rice seed and seedlings business, and that the state can’t afford to lose the billions of naira invested on the project.