The Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has expressed optimism that the state’s economy will soon record a giant leap with the expected generation of over N70 billion yearly from the state’s Rice City project.
Speaking during the test run of the project at the rice factory situated at the Ayade industrial park, Calabar, the state capital, he said the project stemmed from his determination to free the state from over dependence on federal allocation.
The Cross Rivers Rice is the largest and first of its kind in Africa. Ayade said the Rice city was one of the signature projects of his administration and will be certified ready for commercial activities in June.
According to Ayade, “When I told Cross Riverians that my ambition was to restructure the state from over dependence on federal allocation, I truly meant it because with projects like this; we are going to generate more revenue for the state…we are partnering with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to ensure that most of the seedlings are acquired from here.”
The governor expressed his delight that the state was on the path of economic independence even “after we lost our oil wells unjustly. We now have an investment that needs federal patronage.”
Ayade explained that should the state enjoy full federal patronage, the Rice City will achieve a yearly turnover of 70 to 100billion Naira.
He thus called on the federal government to focus on the procurement of rice seedlings from Cross Rivers state because, in his words, “we have no competitor”.
He disclosed that everything about the project was wholly local content with no foreign impute, adding that the factory can produce for 24 hours per day.
Describing the project as the biggest rice seedling factory in Africa with a perfect automated irrigation method, Ayade further disclosed that it would employ over 500 workers when operational.
Some state governors, he said, have already indicated interest to place demands. “The rice seedlings that will be produced from the factory will be called “Cala 77” because it is very natural and totally organic”, he said.