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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cross River moves to ensure food security

The Commissioner for Information in Cross River, Mr Erasmus Ekpang, says the government has put in place a robust plan to ensure food security in the state.

Senator Prince Bassey Otu
Governor of Cross River State, Senator Prince Bassey Otu

Speaking in an interview in Calabar, the state capital, on Thursday, April 4, 2024, Ekpang said farmers would be sufficiently supported in terms of farm inputs and implements to achieve the purpose.

He said part of the plan ahead of the coming farming season is to support farmers with fertilisers, seedlings, tractors and land preparation.

While noting that the fertilisers would be sold at a subsidised rate, the commissioner disclosed that the farmers would be supported with soft loans as well.

Ekpang pointed out that the idea behind the support was for the farmers to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming.

According to him, the government has already approved the procurement of 108 tractors to be distributed to youths across the 196 wards in the state.

“Each ward will be getting six tractors.

“Similarly, farmers will be assisted in land preparation so that instead of planting on one hectare, they can farm on three hectares with the help of government.

“The Gov. Bassey Otu-led administration has also gone ahead to carry out soil analysis across the state to enable farmers know which crop is suitable for planting in certain areas.”

On the challenges of accessing credit facilities, the commissioner noted that government had come out with a solution.

“Government has set up a N30 billion state Commercial Agriculture Development Fund.”

Ekpang said the fund which would be provided and guaranteed by the state government, would be warehoused by a consortium of banks.

He said the fund is meant to move farmers from subsistence farming to commercial farming, and to boost agricultural value chain in the state.

He stated that the fund would boost Maize, Cassava, Aquaculture, Rice farming in Cross River and ensure all year-round farming in the state.

He said government’s intervention followed difficulties encountered by the farmers in accessing loans.

“The $540 million catalytic funding by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development in Nigeria, will boost food security and employment in the state,” he said.

By Ehigimetor Igbaugba

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