The Hybrid Rice Seedling Factory built by the Cross River State Government at the cost of N3bn is estimated to generate at least N14bn annually.
The factory, which was unveiled in May by President Muhammadu Buhari, is sited in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State.
Conducting journalists round the facility on Thursday, the state Commissioner of Agriculture, Prof. Anthony Eneji, said the product from factory is expected to meet the hybrid seed demands of farmers in the entire south-south and south-east regions.
Eneji said the factory was built at a cost of over N3bn in terms of planning, design, construction and equipping.
He said an estimated N1.2bn would be generated monthly from about 1, 000 hectares of land, which conservatively is put at about N14bn annually.
Eneji said, “If we get eight tonnes per hectare from each of 1, 000 hectares, each harvest within three weeks or a month will yield a return of N1.2bn.
“If one tone of hybrid rice is sold at N150, 000, then you can use your calculator and do the arithmetic you will know we are talking in billion of naira.”
He said the factory would be self sustaining in the long run, adding that the state government had created a special purpose company under the ministry of agriculture to manage the factory.
“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,” he added.
He said that at the moment, the facility can handle between 200 and 300 hectares, adding that the output would be raised as demands increase.
“For now, 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 are grown in about two tonnes per hectare at best, but with the hybrid seeds, we aim at a minimum of between eight and nine tonnes per hectare.
“Hybrid seeds here mean that it is a seed gotten from two pairs. One could be high yielding and the other disease resistant.“Note as well that the gestation period for rice seedlings is about two to three weeks while the time for planting a rice crop to maturity is about six months.
So while other states’ rice planters will harvest rice crops two times a year the Cross River seedling factory will be harvesting and selling at least 54 times a year,” he said.