The Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade has charged African countries to undertake agro-industrial revolution if it must shake off the ugly tag of under-development and backwardness.
Ayade spoke at the 2019 Africa Industrialization Day (AID) organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, in Calabar, the state capital.
He said while the need to industrialise Africa has become urgent, the continent must make sure that the right steps are taken if the objective must be achieved.
According to Ayade, “Agro-industrial revolution is the first step to take. It is only agro-industrial revolution that allows you to industrialize and revolutionize your economy and yet carry the people along because the essence of Industrialization is to create social harmony.
“The problem with Africa is the extemporaneous excitement of attitude to catch up with the Western world, in the process, we miss the strategic steps that are required towards growth.”
He said it was against this background that his administration embarked on agro-industrial revolution through value-chain addition to agricultural processes.
Ayade said: “Today we have the garment factory employing over 3000 people with women constituting 85% of that workforce. We have a philosophy of going from farm to fabric. So our cotton farm in Yala Local Government area in partnership with Arewa Textile is helping to create the raw materials that we require in order to have our own knitting and our own fabrics that can turn into garments. That is the agro-industrial revolution.
“We have the Cross River State noodles factory, which depends mostly on rice because the use of wheat has been found to have a high level of gluten. Today in Cross River State, we have a feed mill.
“Today, Cross River State has a factory that will be producing 24, 000 frozen chicken per day. As such we need a huge quantity of maize and soya beans for feed production. This will create an agricultural value chain that will create an enabling environment for you to massively cultivate new farmlands to support the cultivation of maize and soya beans, in the process creating jobs and linking people to farm and linking the farms and produce to Agriculture and linking them ultimately to the industries.
“That is the connectivity and that is why agro-industrial revolution is always the first. Today in Ogoja, we have the first vitaminized rice mill in Africa. Here in Calabar, we have the first seedling factory in Africa, we also have the cocoa processing and the first cocoa processing plant that goes from cocoa bean to chocolate bar, the very first in Africa.”
He called for an end to fuel subsidies, arguing that such funds should be ploughed into industrializing the agricultural sector.
“Such funds can be used in providing Agricultural grants, subsidizing Agricultural and industrial revolution, subsidizing people who are going into industrial projects that will create jobs for our people. You can imagine, as minister of Agriculture, you decide that one state, one industry, one local government, one small Agricultural setting