By Etuka Sunday
Furtherance to its resolve to make agriculture regain an enviable position as a business venture rather than mere subsistence, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with Cross River State Government has formally flagged off the input distribution for 2018 wet season farming in Cross River state and environs.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, while performing the ceremony assured the over twelve thousand farmers already enrolled under the auspices of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), of continuous support with a view to repositioning agriculture both as business venture for employment generation, wealth creation and self sufficiency in food production.
Mr Emefiele, who was represented by the apex bank’s spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor commended cross river state Government for its untiring efforts which have started yielding results in terms of awareness among the farmers and provision quality seedlings.
He further noted that over four hundred thousand farmers have been supported under ABP to cultivate twelve crops like rice, soya, maize, palm produce, cotton cassava among others. He advised genuine farmers to key into the technology driven input distribution system with a view to benefiting form the low interest rate of nine per cent facility.
According to the CBN Governor, the biometric capturing which identified farmers to specific farmland through mapping has eliminated the issue of ‘absentee’ or non-practising farmers from benefiting from the inputs and other facilities.
On the part of the beneficiaries of the inputs and other facilities under the Bank’s intervention programmes, Mr Emefiele urged them to take repayment terms seriously as that will go a long way in ensuring sustainability of the programmes.
In a remark at the ceremony, the state chairman of RIFAN, chief John Ettah disclosed that provision of agricultural inputs has greatly encouraged farmers in the state. He noted that it is now possible to cultivate their farmlands all year round with ‘two wet’ and ‘one dry’ season farming. He further hinted that rice farmers in the state have cultivated twenty thousand hectres of farmland with an expected average yield of five metric tons per hectre.
Chief Etta also assured farmers favourable market conditions for their produce as off-takers on standby to collect the produce from farmers at and agreed and reasonable price.
The Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade who was represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture , Professor Egrinya Eneji reiterated that agriculture remains the channel for sustainable development for Nigeria hence the state government was pragmatic in leveraging the value chain opportunities offered by sector. According the Governor, various initiatives of the CBN have not only made agricultural practise simple, but very profitable.
The Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) respresented by Mrs Eno Ekpo assured farmers of total support and therefore urged them not to hesitate in approaching for any protection and advice.