President Buhari’s Commendation And The Gov. Ayade Rice Revolution

On October 1, 2017, in his Independence Day broadcast to the Nigerian nation, President Muhammadu Buhari minced no words when he specially commended the Cross River State Government for supporting the Presidential agriculture initiative seeking to revolutionize the cultivation of crops like rice, cocoa, palm oil, cassava and others.

Agreeably, what the President has done is acknowledge that Governor Ben Ayade’s driven investment in rice farming and the revitalization of the state’s cocoa producing capacity, (just to mention a few) are key components that can prosper the state and her people. What this investment in local rice production will also do in the long run is simple; the gap between demand for rice and local production nationally, currently standing at 6.4 million metric tons annually, will be bridged.

For a nation currently spending around N356 billion importing this staple and not adequately utilizing vast acreages of land, Cross River State looks set to positively alter the rice production landscape as she strengthens her production capabilities. But how can all of this be achieved?

As a visible first step, the governor has acquired and began the cultivation of high yielding rice. He has also set in motion processes that will connect and strengthen the capacity of actors along the rice value chain as well as facilitate access to equipment and proper storage after harvest. Because in times past, strategic food security initiatives did not assess the trends in local rice production to gage yield potentials, harvest was poor. It is a situation the governor thoroughly understands and has taken into serious consideration as he pushes through with this novel initiative.  Those who worry about the compounding lack of small scale processing plants for excess perishable farm produce and the near absence of all year round farming cannot immediately point to Cross River State. The reason is simple; this administration’s improved decision making capability has already been put to test and the governor has interfaced adequately with a select group of organized people who will make meaningful investments in this direction.

Post-harvest losses remain a major constraint in the agricultural policy framework of any nation. The problem is made worse when you consider that extreme weather conditions in most parts of the state make most down-line farmers unable to store excess farm produce. It is a serious challenge to the Ayade administration’s food security initiative and the fulfillment of this policy objective. He plans to go around this challenge by encouraging and providing the commercial sector in the state with technical support in grain handling and storage capacity. Off-takers have even been targeted for the close to 60,000 metric tones of local rice that will hopefully be produced.

Across the rice value chain, as the Ayade rice revolution rolls forward, human capacity is being built because several individuals across the state are being trained and exposed to modern rice farming techniques.  The domino effect will manifest in the accompanying propagation of these techniques across several other farms within the state and beyond. Finally, the best that can be done is lending the governor the kind of support and partnership that will in turn make life easier for the Cross River State farmer and other citizens.