Mr Oliver Ntui, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Cross River Chapter, on Thursday, said that the Federal Government rice intervention initiative saved the nation during the COVID-19 lockdown.
In an interview with newsmen in Calabar, Ntui said that the access to local rice produce was what sustained Nigerians during the lockdown.
He said the rice farmers were happy with the Federal Government because there would have been hunger in the nation without the agricultural interventions.
“Everywhere was locked down without movement and importation but the local rice production sustained the economy and I want to say thank you to the President.
“Through the RIFAN, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Anchor Borrowers Scheme 2020 rice farmers in the state received inputs like organic fertilisers, agro chemicals, knapsack sprayers and pumping machines which boosted rice production geometrically,” he said.
Ntui also applauded the efforts of Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River for putting in place an enabling environment for rice production, processing and marketing in the state.
“Cross River is gradually becoming a hub and tourist attraction for rice production because of the magnificent rice seedling factory which produces seedlings not only for farmers in the state but to other parts of the nation.
“There is also the ongoing construction of a gigantic ultra-modern rice mill in Ogoja and the training of rice farmers in the state to increase their productivity,” he said.
The chairman further said that the world was in the era of entrepreneurship and called on rhe youth in the state to better their lives and become “agropreneurs” instead of roaming the streets in search of non- existent white collar jobs.