By Inyali Peter, Calabar
The Cross River Government has set aside the sum of N1.7 Billion for the establishment of a food bank commission in the state.
This was disclosed by the state governor, Professor Ben Ayade while receiving a delegation from HB Heritage Bank led by its Coordinator of the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Mr. Godwin Ukwat on a courtesy visit recently.
Ayade said that the Food Bank Commission is structured in a manner that each Local Government will have a Director. He expressed the willingness of the State government to key into the Home Grown School Feeding Programme on the condition that it is given the free hand to run it.
Speaking on the level of mechanisation of agriculture in the country, Gov. Ayade saidthe practice of agriculture in the country was still at the subsistence level, stating that it was time the country embraced the use of technology in farming.
“We are at a time where agriculture is driven by technology in developed countries; where farming is in the hands of big farmers and infrastructure such as roads, water and power are provided,” he stated.
He argued that it would be counterproductive to encourage farmers to continue with “stone-age” agricultural practices which do not even provide insurance cover for the farmers.
In his presentation, the HB Heritage Bank, Head of Agric-Finance, Mr. Gbenga Awe said that the home grown school feeding programme is one of the social safety nets of the Federal Government, which seeks to employ 300,000 youths in the country.
He disclosed that the programme is meant to feed school pupils from Primary One to Six with the aim of encourage learning, asserting that it is usually difficult for a child to concentrate and learn with an empty stomach.
Awe further explained that the scheme will be funded on the basis of 60 percent for the federal government and 40 percent for the State governments.
He outlined the benefits to States to include a boost to Internally Generated Revenue as it brings a large population of persons from the informal sector to the formal sector thereby expanding the state access to the tax base.
He listed states that are already signed on to the programme to include, Kaduna, Zamfara, Osun, Oyo, Jigawa, Benue and Enugu States