In order to tackle the attendant food shortage expected to hallmark the post coronavirus pandemic, Cross River State is going ahead with its Agro-Industrialisation drive in the midst of the virus outbreak, says Governor Ben Ayade.
The governor, who stated this in Calabar, explained that his administration was determined to make the state self-sufficient in food production, adding that “we are not resting on our oars in our agro-industrialization drive because of the likelihood of global food crisis after COVID-19.”
Speaking while deploying the newly acquired tractors and other farming equipment to the field, Ayade said: “In the face of the lockout of Cross River State, isolating Cross River State from the infiltration of coronavirus into the state, we are aware that we have properly secured our external borders while allowing the economy to continue to run. It is against that background that I have come here to mobilize all our equipment to move to the field.
Disclosing that the equipment was being moved to some of the farms in the Northern Senatorial district of the state, the governor explained: “The idea is that Cross River is already looking at the post-Covid19 era because we don’t want to be caught up in the vortex of hunger and food scarcity. Now that oil price has come to zero and even below the cost price, it is obvious Nigeria will have to move to the agro dollar. Nigeria should be migrating from petrodollar to agro dollar and Cross River will be leading that process.”
While calling on African leaders to brace up for the worst and look inwards, Governor Ayade predicted that after COVID-19, most countries will be concerned with feeding its citizens and will be unwilling to export food items.
“It is obvious that most countries will be very unwilling to export their food because they won’t have enough to even feed their own citizens. So, when it gets to that situation where our agrarian reserves are completely limited and we turn back and look at our harvest and it is nothing to write home about, what do we do? Therefore, I am just looking into the future and saying look, Cross River State has to start the process of agricultural densification and putting our footprints on the ground to ensure that we create sufficient cultivation of our landmass.”
Continuing, Ayade, said: “For the massive land deforestation like in Akamkpa where there is a brand new massive rice farm we are doing the clearing work, definitely the equipment will be needed there”
Ayade also hinted that another set of equipment was being deployed to the Cross River international airport in Obudu, located close to the Obudu cattle ranch.
“The airport will offer opportunities so that Cross River will be exporting ornamental flowers to Europe. To do that we need a temperate climate of about 11000 ft above sea level which we have up the ranch. So Obudu Ranch will not only provide tourism, it is now going to be an agro-horticultural business hub, producing flowers and taking them to the cargo airport for export to Europe. If Kenya can make 9 billion Euros from exporting flowers, from 8000ft, then Cross River which has 11000 ft above sea level, should do better. We have the best temperate climate suitable for the cultivation of ornamental flowers.”
According to him, “We are doing all of this because we, as a state know that agriculture is the future and I say it as a timely warning to Africans and Nigerians that it is time for us to isolate Africa and look inwards.”
The governor expressed optimism that his administration’s huge investment in Agro-industrialisation and the expected handsome returns in terms of profits and job creation will rake in, will in no time mitigate the pains of Cross River losing its 76 oil wells.