Governor Ben Ayade
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River on Sunday said the state was preparing for life after COVID-19 pandemic with its Agricultural drive.
He said that the project would enable the state to weather the attendant food shortage expected during the post coronavirus pandemic.
Ayade gave the assurance in Calabar while deploying the newly acquired tractors and other farming equipment to the field.
He said: “In the face of the lockdown, we are aware that we have properly secured our external borders while allowing the economy to continue to run.”
He explained that his administration was determined to make the state self-sufficient in food production.
The News Agency of Nigeria (Newzandar News) reports that the equipment was being moved to some of the farms in the Northern Senatorial District of the state.
“We are not resting on our oars in our agro-industrialisation drive because of the likelihood of a global food crisis after COVID-19.
“It is against that background that I have come here to mobilise all our equipment to move to the field.
“The idea is that Cross River is already looking at the post-COVID-19 era because we don’t want to be caught up in the line of hunger and food scarcity.
“Now that oil price has come to zero and even below the cost price, it is obvious Nigeria will have to move to agro-dollar.
“Nigeria should be migrating from petrol dollar to agro dollar and Cross River will be leading that process,” he said.
He called on African leaders to brace up for the worst and look inwards to resolve the conflicting challenges coming after the pandemic.
Ayade said that after COVID-19, most countries would be concerned with feeding its citizens as well as unwilling to export food items.
“It is obvious that most countries will be very unwilling to export their food because they won’t have enough to even feed their own citizens.
“So, when it gets to that situation where our agrarian reserves are completely limited and we turn back and look at our harvest and it is nothing to write home about, what do we do?
“Therefore, I am just looking into the future and saying look, Cross River has to start the process of agricultural (projects) and putting our footprints on the ground to ensure that we create sufficient cultivation of our landmass,” he said.
Ayade also disclosed that another set of equipment was being deployed to the proposed site of Cross River International Airport in Obudu Local Government Area, located close to the Obudu Cattle Ranch.
“The airport will offer opportunities so that Cross River will be exporting ornamental flowers to Europe. To do that we need a temperate climate of about 11,000 ft above sea level which we have up the ranch.
“So Obudu Ranch will not only provide tourism, it is now going to be an agro-horticultural business hub, producing flowers and taking them to the cargo airport for export to Europe.
“If Kenya can make 9 billion Euros from exporting flowers, from 8,000 ft, then Cross River which has 11,000 ft above sea level, should do better.
“We have the best temperate climate suitable for the cultivation of ornamental flowers,” he said.