The Cross River Government on Monday launched the first phase of the nursery of one million cocoa seedlings in Akim/Osomba communities in Akamkpa Local Government Area.
Gov. Ben Ayade, who was represented at the ceremony by his Special Adviser on Cocoa Development, Mr Oscar Ofuka, said that the project was part of his administration’s efforts to make cocoa the largest revenue earner for the state.
He said that the location of the cocoa nursery in Akamkpa Local Government Area (LGA) was to prove that cocoa could be cultivated in every area of the state.
“Today is a great day for the people of Akim/Osomba communities; we want to prove to the world that Cross River is the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria.
“Cocoa is our heritage and with the ongoing cocoa revolution programme in Cross River, we have decided to look at every nook and cranny of the state to revive this age-long heritage.
“Very soon, Cross River will not have to depend on allocations from the Federation Account to fund our projects because our cocoa can give us the much-needed revenue to do whatever we want,’’ he said.
Ayade said that the state government, through its Department of Cocoa Development, had already acquired 300,000 hectares of land in the two communities for the project.
“Right now, we have raised 800,000 seedlings nurseries and within the week, our one million target will be achieved for the first phase,’’ he said.
The governor said that the cocoa seeds for the nursery were acquired from the Cocoa Research Institute, Ikom, adding that within three months, the seedlings would be due for planting.
Ayade said that the cocoa estate, which would be large enough to accommodate a school and a hospital, would be provided with electricity, just as in other cocoa estates in Ikom and Etung local government areas of the state.
He urged the people, especially the youths and women in the communities, to take advantage of the opportunity to engage in farming to make life more meaningful to them.
In his goodwill message, Prof. Augustine Ogogo, the Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Calabar, commended the state government for deciding to revive cocoa production in the state.
He pledged that the faculty would be ready to partner with the state government by using the cocoa estate for its practical sessions for students.
He stressed that agriculture was the most dependable revenue earner in the world, saying that the era of oil revenues was fast fading away.
“Agriculture remains the most stable revenue earner today because the era of oil is almost over. I assure you that the faculty will partner with you and send our students here for practicals,’’ he said.
The head of Akim/Osomba communities, Mr Boniface Offion, thanked the state government for the project and expressed the hope that it would be beneficial to the communities and the state in general.
He pledged that the communities would fully support the government’s efforts to ensure the success of the project.