By Eugene Upah
Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, Tuesday disclosed that a production line for the manufacture of military biscuits has been completed and will soon commence production.
Ayade disclosed this while commissioning the CSS’ Food Processing and Packaging Factory at Gora, near Abuja.
The governor, who has so far sent over 3000 young persons from Cross River for training at the CSS Farms, charged the latest batch of 150 trainees to concentrate on learning the latest techniques in agricultural production.
“I will send as many youths as possible here before my tenure ends. Over 3000 have been trained already, more will still be trained because we are now expanding our value chain. So, we will need some more raw materials.
“We have set up factories. We have a massive biscuit line and we don’t want to use wheat flour; we want to go using fortified cassava flour to produce our biscuits. We will fortify our flour with special vitamin A and energy to have military biscuits. All of these call for backward integration and innovation and research. But this can only happen when you have the industrial platform to be able work.
“That is why Cross Riverians will continue to come here, to gain advanced knowledge and skill in modern farming techniques, bring back the knowledge to the state, grow our cash crops and raw material dependence, and then ship into the factories that will now process for export through the Bakassi deep sea port under the kinetics of the superhighway”.
The governor said agriculture and agro-industrialization hold the key to a prosperous future, adding that it was time for the country to fully return to agriculture, devoid of the usual primitivist mentality if the country must rise beyond her present economic quagmire.
He stated that all forms of industrialization start with agro-industrialization, emphasizing that Nigeria must replace her primordial and cumbersome methods of agriculture to mechanized farming which would lead to industrialization, ultimate beneficiation process and crops value chains driven by world class technology.
The governor called on the federal government to take a facility tour of CSS farms in Gora, Nassarawa State to understudy its entire design, architecture and operations with a view to replicating same across the country.
While commending John Kennedy Opara for leading the way in agro-industrialization, agro- innovation and food security, Ayade said: “I think it is quite timely for Nigeria to realize that we can’t keep importing everything. It is time to altruistically embrace technology driven agriculture. It is time to begin to create jobs for our people, increase the foot falls in farms, reduce restiveness, banditry, armed robbery and kidnapping.
“The basis of all the insecurity we find in Nigeria is characterized by unemployment. Agriculture actually speaks to the subject. That is why it is very imperative for me to keep sending young men and women from Cross River to CSS farms to learn modern techniques and skills in farming to enable them earn a living through agriculture and its value chains.”
Earlier, beneficiaries of the training, mostly youths, expressed gratitude to the governor for what they termed a ‘life changing experience’, saying Ayade was empowering them to become next green millionaires.
Agatha Morphy, one of the trainees said the knowledge and skills gathered at CSS farms would be invested back into the state to further help boost her economy through agriculture and food value chains.
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