The Cross River State government plans to break away from over-dependence on the monthly allocations for Abuja.
Its area of focus is the production of cocoa, rice, poultry products and establishment of processing mills, among others.
To achieve this, the state is encouraging farmers with incentives, especially from the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) to invest more in the identified crops, in order to take advantage of the processing mills being put in place.
Currently, the state has a large number of cocoa and rice farms scattered all over the central and northern parts of the state.
While conducting newsmen on tour of some of the agricultural projects like the Cocoa Factory and Rice Mill, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Anthony Eneji said: “As you can see, a lot of work has been done here and these are high quality equipment all the way from Switzerland and we are hoping that in the first quarter of this year, this plant should be up and running.
So far, we are very satisfied with the state of work done, the access roads are being constructed, simultaneously the fence is finished, land-scapping is almost beginning. The warehouse is being built quickly, that is where the cocoa feed is going to be stored and for processing.
“There is a programme we are having in mind to educate the farmers on handling of cocoa from the farming point to processing. Fermentation is very important for the sustainability of this plant.”
On rice, he said with the ABP and the special initiatives of Rice Farmers Association, the state is targeting 50, 000 hectares for rice cultivation, which will be more than enough to feed the rice plant.
At the end of the day what we are going to have as the final product vitamins in the rice, which helps the body system and we have planned to also go further by having this rice in different flavours, you will have the chicken, the fish and the beef flavor.
“This rice is highly developed for pest resistance, high yielding, disease resistance and has ability to compete with weeds so that you don’t weed so many times before you harvest, so they have all these qualities.”
Commenting, Managing Director of the Cocoa factory and the Rice Mill, Mr. Chris Agara said: “We had an agreement with Bowa, they are both a German and Swiss company to get this equipment installed. The good thing about it is that we also have a relationship with them, whereby they are going to provide certain backup even after commissioning to ensure that there is quality and sustainability as well.
“We are very blessed in Ikom to be producing organic cocoa. We are in fact the only region in Nigeria that still produces organic cocoa. Our cocoa sells at a premium price and so we want to make sure that we retain the nature of the organic cocoa with the process from here, so that we can create that identity for Ikom as the place where organic cocoa is produced cocoa you will know that it is organic.”