Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has again called on the people to invest massively in Agriculture, saying, “as a panacea to the prevailing economic recession, agriculture has the potential of increasing the revenue base of the country, create wealth, generate employment as well as sustain the economy.”
He made the call during the inauguration of the state chapter of Cocoa Association of Nigeria held at Ibom Hall, Uyo the state capital.
According to him: “God has richly blessed Akwa Ibom with natural resources, favourable weather and good soil that should be harnessed through aggressive investment in agriculture for food sufficiency and sustainability”.
He noted that “no investment can take place in the midst of hunger and my administration is poised to creatively harness the abundant endowments by laying a solid economic foundation that would bring about prosperity and all- round development”.
He pointed out that the testimony of high yield recorded by cocoa farmers in the state has justified his determination to impact on the farmers by turning around their fortunes in the cocoa farming “in view of the high income the commodity attracts in the international market, this administration would ginger cocoa farmers to avail themselves of the innovations in Cocoa cultivation by exposing them to the modern techniques of cocoa farming. Already Consultants have arrived the state to ensure that this is done,” the Governor stated.
Governor Emmanuel described as magical the value chain inherent in Cocoa cultivation saying that the crop attracts market as remnants of the seeds are used for the production of animal feeds while beverage and pharmaceutical companies place high demand for the product in the manufacturing of their products.
He announced that a firm from Mexico has indicated intention to establish a Cocoa processing Plant in the state however the project is delayed by inability of the farmers to meet the production target of one hundred metric tone per day which the company requires for a take off.
Mr Emmanuel who expressed appreciation to the National President Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Mr Sayina Riman for inaugurating the Akwa Ibom Chapter of the Association used the occasion to congratulate the new Executive and urged them to move with the times by keying into the new wave of cocoa cultivation to maximise profit.
Earlier, the Chairman on the occasion DIG Udom Ekpoudom (Rtd) congratulated the new Executive saying that the inauguration has launched Akwa Ibom into the league of Cocoa producing states in the country and commended the Governor for igniting the enterprise spirit in the people to embrace Agriculture,.
Mr Ekpoudom urged the Akwa Ibom Executive to synergise with the vision of Governor Emmanuel whom he said has a midas touch in investment and set the pace by incoperating the state name in the world map of Cocoa producers.
The President Cocoa Association of Nigeria Mr Sayina Riman lauded the Governor for his massive investment in agro-business particularly Cocoa, Palm and Coconut cultivation to grow the state’s economy and spoke of the gians awaiting the state from such investment.
Mr Riman observed that the Governor has match action with words by encouraging the citizens to go into farming and making farm inputs accessible and affordable to farmers in the state. “I see in him the basic knowledge and willingness to grow the entire agricultural sector of the state”. He remarked.
He noted that Akwa Ibom is in the hub of the rain forest belt that is favourable to growing cocoa and other cash crops that would attract investors across the globe .
Mr Sayina noted that the inauguration of the Association in the state would help strengthen the value chain of cocoa production to enable the farmers gain from their investment.
He added that the Association would partner the state government in it agricultural development by training cocoa farmers in areas of quality control, ware housing, processing, export and also expose them to sources of Credit facilities to enable them grow their businesses.
The State Chairman of the Association Bishop Michel Akpan pledged to justify the mandate given them by actualising the dream of making the state a major producer and exporter of cocoa and appealed to the Governor to integrate the private sector in his process of harnessing the agricultural potentials of the state.
The occasion which featured exhibition of products made from Cocoa and lectures for Cocoa farmers climaxed with the inauguration of the state Association with the following members Chief Micheal Akpan Chairman, Mr Samuel Edet Secretary, and Mr Emmanuel Mosses Treasurer.
Others are Mr Aniekan Akpan Vice Chairman, Mr Utibe Uyoatta Financial Secretary, Deconess Abigail Itam Welfare Officer, Obong JJ Obori Public Relations Officer, Mr Emmanuel Udo Ex – Officio, Mr Duke Ekpenyong Auditor and Obong Essien Esema Legal Adviser.