Cross River State government has continued its campaign for Cocoa to be recognized and regarded as a major source local and foreign revenue for the state and federal government.
To this end, in addition to the one planted at Nicon Luxury hotel, Abuja, last year, the state government officials symbolically planted another Cocoa trees at the Cross River State Governor’s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, to amplify the campaign and confirm that Cocoa seed can grow anywhere in Nigeria.
Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade on Cocoa Development and Control, Dr. Oscar Ofuka, alongside the Deputy Governor’s aide on investment promotion and other state officials performed the symbolic planting of the Cocoa tree in Abuja.
He said that Cocoa has been the gold of Cross River state. But unfortunately it was relegated to the background when oil was discovered decades ago. But the Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, few years, decided to turn attention to the Agriculture sector and that led to revolution in the sector.
He said: “The Governor, obviously, knew that Cocoa and other agro-business is the only way to move Cross River state and Nigeria forward. He established the department of Cocoa development for the first time and appointed first Special Adviser on Cocoa development.
“The idea was that, if Cote d’Ivore a small country with population size that’s not up to that of Cross-River state can be the highest producer of Cocoa, then Cross-River state can do better. The entire landscape of the creeks of Bakassi supports Cocoa development. For the first time, ultra-modern Cocoa processing factory was established in Ikom, and that created job and wealth opportunities.
“What we know is that agriculture without modern day and well equipped processing industry is completely dead. So, you cannot have a cocoa bin and export it, and expect to make money. The real money is in the processing.”
He, said that economic projection of the state indicated that Cocoa could become a major of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for Cross River State, with the monthly allocation from the federation account augmenting.
“The state governor had foresight and was smart enough to invest in agriculture. The establishment of the Cocoa processing plant has equally given us a challenge of producing enough raw materials to feed it.”
He confirmed that the state government went into massive expansion of cocoa farms by opening 3,400 hectares of Cocoa plantation in some parts of the state.
“We also acquired 10,000 hectares of land and another 7,000 hectares to produce Cocoa. I can assure you that we are ready to take over from Cote d’ivore. But for now, we are the leading Cocoa producing community in Nigeria and we are taking the lead in Cocoa production,” he added.
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