From Judex Okoro, Calabar

Cross River state government has concluded arrangements to establish commodity depot and control centre to promote local content.

The bill to give legal backing to the depot is before the State House of Assembly and is sponsored by the Deputy Majority leader of the House, Hon. Hillary Bisong.

Speaking at the public hearing of the bill at the weekend in Calabar, the Chairman, committee on agriculture, Hon. Edward Ajang, stated that the bill “seeks to regulate produce and commodity as well as promote local content in order to ensure that commodities are graded into Cross River State Commodity data.

“Besides, the bill would ensure that the commodity is sold to indigenes of Cross River state and available for the infant agro- allied industries to feed their processing and production.”

Also speaking, the sponsor of the bill and deputy majority leader of the Cross River House of Assembly, Hon. Hillary Bisong, said the bill is coming at the nick of time and ,if passed, it will ensure safe and healthy food for consumption in the state and Nigerians as a whole.

According to him, the bill will protect Cross Riverians who are involved in the commodity business as well as position the state to process her agro commodities instead of selling them raw to other states.

He added that the bill will promote food security and price stability of commodities in the state just as the Commodity Control Center Board will provide facilities for operators and farmers.

Commenting on the bill, the Director General, Commodity and Quality Control Broad, Mr Ogbiji Nyiam, lamented that Cross River commodities are graded into production data of other states , due to lack of proper grading system.

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Nyiam said passage of the bill would address the issue of proper quality check of commodities to meet world standards as well as improve and create a clear statistics of the commodities productions and operations in the State.

He said: “The government decries a situation where the infant agro- allied industries in the state will have to rely on raw materials from other states to feed the industries when our local farmers are busy selling their commodities to these other states, which in turn now sell back to feed our industries.

“This development deprives the state of such other grants and benefits that should accrue to cross River State. So, when the bill is passed, it will seek to ensure availability of commodity which forms raw materials for the agro-allied industries in the state.

“Besides, the center will be a clearing house for the state’s commodities which will ensure food security, price stability and safe food for local consumption as well as open a corridor for trading our state’s commodities in the international markets.

“It will also open and expand another frontier for revenue generation in the state while creating wealth in cross Riverians who will be players in the commodity business through local content development,” he stated.

At the public hearing, the law makers promised to look into some of the concerns raised by some of the stakeholders.

Present include farmers and civil society groups, who expressed fear that the depot would have negative impact on on farmers.