By Lesley Muosowo Otu
The governor of Cross River, Ben Ayade has expressed fears over possible loss of billions of Naira as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, unless the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal government intervene.
According to him, the factory had received an order of N8.5 billion worth of rice seedlings from the CBN for onward delivery to states, before the outbreak of coronavirus,
The governor said that the sudden outbreak of the global pandemic and the subsequent partial lockdown of the country, had however affected the evacuation of the seedlings, which had since matured for transplanting to farmers across the country.
Ayade called on CBN to indemnify the state against any monetary loss arising from the situation.
“Having made that order and secured an LPO to procure and deliver to the various States of Nigeria for this dry and wet seasons rice farming, Cross River State has massively invested in the seed multiplication and seed cultivation to seedlings.
“Now, we are prepared and fully ready for delivery. You can see the massive expanse of seedlings that are ready for delivery but we have challenges of the off takers in line with the order that was made by CBN.
“This is because of the lockdown of States and the lockdown of the country in general”, he lamented.
He pleaded that the seedlings should not be allowed to waste because of coronavirus.
“The Federal Government has to do something to protect the lives of these young seedlings that are looking so fragile, so beautiful, so fresh and willing to change the landscape of agriculture, particularly the rice beneficiation process.
“Coronavirus has caught up with the Cross River rice seed and seedlings business and CBN has to come to our rescue.
“We cannot afford to lose N3 billion plus. As a state, we have put in over N3 billion to do this investment at this first phase.”