The state governor, Prof Ben Ayade stated this during the inspection of the office complex, along with the Branch Controller, Central Bank of Nigeria, Calabar, Sampson Isuwa and the CBN Head, Development Finance office, Dr. Aniefiok Akpan Umoren.
The bank is being established to boost agriculture in the state.
The Governor said “the only way agriculture can be exciting for young people is to go digital and professional that is why in Cross River, we are taking our time to be the largest rice producers in Africa.
“We have set up the first rice and seedling plant in Africa, we are going into massive and expansive cultivation of rice but to do all of that, we also need a backbone.”
He explained that “Cross River is now supporting CBN and federal government with a state microfinance bank and we are hoping that our date of April 27 as the commissioning date has to be sacrosanct.”
“We have invited the CBN governor who will be here in person. When you ask young men to go into farming, where are they going to get the resources?” Ayade asked rhetorically.
He intimated that although Central Bank of Nigeria provides a facility with a minimal repay period, he has set aside the sum of N500million which will be available to the microfinance bank on the commissioning date when it will open for operations.
He said “The money is set aside for civil servants who want to go into farming, be it must be one, two or three hectares.”
Prof Ayade pointing out that as part of his administration’s efforts to boost farming, which is the right road map for Africa and indeed Nigeria, “the state also has an agricultural development company whose business is to provide agricultural services with an extension service arm.”
Other ventures the governor disclosed would support the agricultural value chain include the white collar farming which allows one the luxury of being a farmer, yet preserves his or her dignity as an educated person.
“As most people think that the university certificate can no longer put their houses on the ground, including the introduction of what he termed, food on the table, hands on the plough.
“In Nigeria, we have land, we are looking for farmers. We have farmers they are looking for money; we have money we
are looking for interest.
“Why would a developing economy that understands that they want to move people away from oil to agriculture still want to put a single digit interest rate in a very short gestation period in an agricultural facility? Again, that makes it difficult, so it is the microfinance bank that will underpin it with the support from Central Bank of Nigeria.”
For Sampson Suwanee, CBN branch controller, “the Prof Ben Ayade-led administration has demonstrated its resolve to create employment for the teeming unemployed youths in the state.”
He added that, “CBN is running after Ayade because of the agricultural program as we want all to bank and access credit facilities.”
Suwanee said “The only way to achieve this is to ensure that we open microfinance bank branches as there are many places across the state that doesn’t have banks. This will help them access credit and pay back.
“The governor’s zeal to make sure that this state is number one is something that we are very happy with. Let us be much stronger in food production that is the only way we can have economic development in this country.”
On his part, Dr Umoren who heads CBN Development Finance office maintained that “we are happy with Ayade for adding value to the economy of the state, creating different clusters across the state to encourage youths to go into farming of crops.”
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