Andy Esiet, Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has expressed concern over the shortage of enough raw materials to feed the newly commissioned 66, 500 tonnes Ogoja Rice mill in the state.
Ayade who expressed this concern on Saturday during the Northern Festival (NORTHFEST) in Ogoja, said he had a dream of building a rice mill for his people so that our people would stop taking our rice to other states to mill and “today I have fulfilled that dream. The biggest challenge we have now is that the carrying capacity of the rice mill is much bigger than the raw materials we have got.
“So how do we explain, that I have a rice mill with 66,500 tonnes capacity in terms of storage and you need to have that quantity before you switch on the engine, yet I cannot get 3000 tonnes?”
He therefore, charged the people, especially the young ones to go into rice farming since the rice mill is ever ready to off-take their produce.
He said, “if you go to Obanliku, we are building a maize semovita factory, if you go to Obudu, we are doing Yam poundo, we are doing biscuits. If you come to Bekwarra, we have two major factories. One is in Nyanya, the other one is in Gakem. One is producing vegetable oil, while the other is to produce animal feeds.
“If you come to Ogoja and Yala, you have this massive rice mill, which is the biggest and the only vitamised rice mill in Africa. Can you imagine if everyone of us here had one hectare of rice farm?This rice mill will not be lying prostrate. Now we go as far as Taraba State to buy rice paddy, because the mill is working but there is no rice to mill”.
On the NorthFest, Ayade urged the state House of Assembly members from the Northern part of the state to sponsor a bill to give legal backing to it to ensure its sustainability after he leaves office as governor.
Ayade acknowledged that this year’s event, was the last he would be attending as the governor of the state as the festival was created by his administration to celebrate the cultures of the people of Northern Cross River.
To ensure that the festival continues even after leaving office, he called on the state House of Assembly members from the North “to bring a bill to the House of Assembly, which will have my assent ultimately to ensure that as we are sustaining the Carnival Calabar and the Leboku, we also sustain NorthFest.”
He said this was imperative because “we want Northfest to become the symbol of unity for us the people of the North.”