Cross River state has said its new rice seedling facility will fetch it about ₦13billion annually.

Briefing newsmen in Calabar on Tuesday during a facility tour of the factory, the State Commissioner for Finance, Prof. Anthony Eneji, said the factory built at a cost of over ₦3 billion in terms of planning, design, construction and equipping it, the machines, the access and the outdoor situation, all the facilities together, “it is expected to meet the hybrid seed demands of the entire South South and South East zone”.

He said the factory is estimating to start with 1000 hectares of land and if we get 8 tonnes per hectare from each of this hectare, you multiply that by 1000 hectares, each harvest within three weeks or a month will yield a return of ₦1.2 billion.

Prof. Eneji said, “if you are selling one tonne of hybrid rice at ₦150, 000, then you can use your calculator and do the arithmetic, you will know we are talking in billions of naira”. This was put at about ₦13 billion per year.

He said, “this is a totally self-sustaining project if we manage it the way we are going. It can pay back whatever we are putting into this investment in three to four years. For management reasons the state has created a special SUV called Cross River Rice Company and charged it with management responsibility. It is under the Ministry of Agriculture. It is a state project”.

For now he said, “we can handle up to 200 or 300 hectares in this facility. The seedlings are raised on demand basis. You know they have to be taken off within three weeks.

“Our local rice, we are growing two tonnes per hectare at best but with our hybrid seeds, we are aiming at minimum of 8.5 to 9 tonnes per hectare. Actually as we are making contacts we are going to bring some gem plasms there that would help us advance even up to 13 tonnes per hectare and so we would get the parent seeds from those centres of excellence and be able to develop our local rice in our laboratory here in the rice centre.”

On employment, the commissioner said, “We would conservatively put the number of direct employment at 10, 000. But the indirect and other multiplier effects those who would be farming rice at the various local government and the layouts they are going to hire and everything, then the processors and so on, it is quite enormous”.

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