BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Cross River state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has described farming as the only gatrway to prosperity, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Therefore, has urged Cross Riverians, especially women, to go into aggressive farming.
Ayade spoke in Calabar at the flag off of input distribution to farmers as part of mitigation measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the event was also the Minister for Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono.
According to Ayade, his administration’s commitment to Agriculture was the reason farmers in the state enjoy five percent interest loan.
Ayade: “Let me use this opportunity to say it very loud and clear that the future prosperity lies with farmers. If you don’t have a farm, you have no business in the 21st century”.
“The post Covid 19 pandemic has become very clear that only farmers have the capacity to survive even if all the doors are closed and so I challenge everyone one of you to own a farm and to show me indeed that your farm is working.
“Cross River State has made a choice of agro industrialization and the project pathway is so orgasmic and organically connected with a kind of syntax that allows you enjoy the pleasure of the income stream that we have provided by making available a 5% interest loan for all farmers in Cross River State by leaving the sum of N500m with the Cross River microfinance bank.
Giving kudos to women farmers, Ayade said: “Let me say it very clearly that from my experience when you give a loan to a woman to go into farming, you are surer than when you give that loan to a man.Why? Because women are more dedicated, they are more committed, more consistent, they have fire power, they have Integrity and honour they have capacity they have intellect and morality they have everything that qualifies them to show consistency and commitment to purpose”
He urged the Minister to increase fund set aside by the federal government for women farmers so as to encourage them.
“I encourage women to please take advantage of the submission of the Honorable Minister for Agriculture that interest free loans are available. I also plead with the Honorable Minister to increase the money set aside for the women from 35% to 50% that way you can be sure that you will get your returns”, the governor quipped.
Speaking earlier, Alhaji, Nanono disclosed that his Ministry was frantically working to ensure that Nigeria become self sufficient in food production.
His words: “This gathering is one of our efforts to work hand-in hand with state governments and other relevant stakeholders to assist in ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in the face of COVID-19 Pandemic.
“It is therefore my pleasure to be here with you today to roll out the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of cocoa seedlings, improved oilpalm sprouted nuts and cashew seeds as part of my Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021.
“The Ministry and its research institutions are working towards making Nigeria self-sufficient in good quality seed and its availability to farmers as a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security as well as industrialization. The Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.
“This coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr. President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.
“Today, the Ministry is supporting the oilpalm farmers, with 5,000 improved oilpalm sprouted nuts and 1,500kg improved cashew seed. The cocoa farmers will also be supported with 20,000 cocoa seedlings and agrochemicals. In addition, Rice farmers will be supported with 1,000 kg of rice seeds”
According to him special incentives to women farmers were geared towards encouraging them more.
“In our input distribution efforts, at least 35% of the inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Action Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women”, the Minister said.