Tina Ezin, Calabar
Cross River State government has commenced the distribution of 100,000 improved varieties of cocoa seedlings to young farmers in the state.
The exercise which was flagged off yesterday by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Evara Esu at the Cross River Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) farm in Calabar South Local Government Area of the state, is specifically for South Senatorial district farmers.
Prof. Esu who was represented by the former Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong, said the Ben Ayade’s administration is committed in developing and has built the state of the act Cocoa Processing Mill in Ikom local government, aimed at serving all cocoa farmers in the state.
He said what has taken place in the heart of Calabar was a demonstration farm in a concrete jungle to show that cocoa can be cultivated in any part of the state especially in the South.
Ekpenyong encouraged the people of the South to tapped into the opportunity offered from the demonstration by cultivating cocoa in larger quantity, noting that this would in return boost the economic growth of the state and Nigeria at large.
He added, “what the Special Adviser Cocoa Development has been able to do is built a demonstration farm right here in the heart of Calabar in CRBC complex; this is more or less a concrete jungle, forgets the trees you may see in the background.
“Cocoa has been known in decade past to grow most in our Central Senatorial District but today we are here in Calabar in the heart of the Southern Senatorial district in a very concrete jungle and we are seeing a genetically enhanced cocoa growing here and have been cultivated with a shot span of just 18 months
“What we have been able to demonstrate here is to be able to show that we get the seedlings into the hands of young and strong workforce, give them land, we can develop a lot of cocoa farmers who will end up becoming green millionaires.”
In his remark, the Special Adviser (SA) to the governor, Senator Ben Ayade on Cocoa Development and Control, Ntufam Oscar Ofuka, said it has been proven that cocoa cultivation yield better in the south more than the central where cocoa cultivation is known for.
He however charged the people to aggressively embark on cultivation of cocoa in the South, saying, “with the improved seedlings distribution, the state stands the chance of regenerating our moribund estates planted decades ago during the administration of late Dr. Michael Opara.
“To benefit from the free improved variety seedlings, you must be an owner of farm land. Our intention is to take young people out of the streets. Cocoa has been a monopoly of people living in the Central Senatorial District before this time, unfortunately, it has been so for a very long time but my appointment by His Excellency the governor, had actually given me the opportunity to proven my worth. Developing cocoa means developing a state and putting Nigeria on the way to development.
“We have 100,000 seedlings to distribute today and we shall be distributing free of charge to all the people in the southern Senatorial District and of cause, the idea is to ensure that we create green millionaires”.
On his part, the Muri Munene of Efut kingdom and President, Calabar South Traditional Rulers Council, Munene Maurice Okon Eyo 1, commended the Dr. Ofuka for the great initiative in demonstrating that cocoa can also be planted in southern soil.
The traditional ruler also thanked the governor saying, “Today is a very special day and I want to take this opportunity to commend our governor for his vision. He has seen to it that every local government has an industry; it is something that is very unique that we have not had before.”
One of the beneficiaries, Mr. Isreal Eyo, thanked the SA for the great initiative and for considering the youths in the south to join what he described as the Cocoa Revolution.