Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade’s agricultural revolution has received the commendation of the World Bank. Salua Schue, Task Team leader, World Bank and Federal Government Assisted Agro-process, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Projects (APPEAL) for youths, physically challenged women, described Ayade’s feat as revolutionary and second to none in sub Saharan Africa.
Schue made the commendation shortly after a tour of facilities at the Ayade Industrial Park which houses the Cross River Noodles Factory, Cross River Feed Mill, Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory and other agro value chain projects, in Calabar.
The team leader, who is also a senior Economist at the Bank said he was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the factories and the equipment on ground, noting that the park was capable of transforming the state’s economy.
His words: “They call Governor Ayade the digital governor. This investment exemplifies the digital technology for agriculture. This is what we call precision agriculture. State of the art of modern agricultural practices in Africa.
“Again I say this is amazing. I will say this is very excellent. I told His Excellency that this is a silent revolution that he has started and I must commend him for this vision”
According to Schue, “Usually when we talk about modern agriculture, it is either you go to Europe or Asia before you can see it, but now it is here with us in Nigeria.”
While acknowledging the huge benefits that await the state, Schue said: “I will describe this as an excellent investment that will actually transform the agricultural space in Nigeria and also in Africa.”
On how the APPEAL Project will partner the Ayade industrial park, Schue said: “I will say that the APPEAL project in the bank will be working with His Excellency on the rice project as well as the rice value chain. We will also be supporting the government on the cocoa value chain and poultry project.”
Offering insights on steps taken by the body to actualize the project in Nigeria, the task team leader disclosed: “We have a component on women and youths, so, we will make sure that we bring them into this investment either as participants that would supply raw materials or as marketers because what we have here is a complete value chain.
“We have a place where they can produce rice and the rice can be further processed into ready to eat rice or noodles.
In addition to these also, you have poultry and we have hatchery, so our youths can grow broilers and then sell to the factory that will require huge birds to meet up its 6,000 birds capacity per day for processing.”
Earlier during a technical session with the team in his office, Governor Ayade disclosed that the state had recently approved the release of N2.5 billion for acquisition of equipment, establishment of a mechanization and cartelization canters with at least 20 hectares of arable land for cultivation in each of the three senatorial districts of the state.
According to the governor, “the effort is to allow access to free land to would-be farmers as well as complement effort of the state’s industrialization efforts, particularly in the area of agriculture which is aimed at creating wealth among the teeming unemployed youths and children.”