BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
More than five thousand Cross Riverians are to be employed in the three thousand eight hundred cocoa plantation under cultivation at Aking-Osomba in Akankpa local government area of the State.
The plantation which spreads across vast expanse of pristine forest, runs through two communities and extends to the Nigeria-Camerron border in the area.
This was disclosed by Mr Oscar Ofuka, Chairman of the State Cocoa Development Board.
He stated this when he conducted newsmen round the plantation to allay claims that the plantation is a ruse, stated that five thousand seedlings of organic cocoa stems have been planted in the plantation so far.
According to him “we have been on this project for the past two years and cocoa being the most valuable crop will generate revenue to boost the state’s economy and stop it from depending on federal allocation’
Oruka said with harvest from the plantation, the state will overtake Cot -devoire in cocoa production in a few years.
” The state governor, Senator Ben Ayade has set a five thousand metric tonnes cocoa processing factory in Ikom and harvests from this estate will form the bulk of produce to be processed there”.
Ofuka said the five thousand youths to be engaged in the plantation will assist on clearing the bush, trimming the cocoa stems and harvesting to ensure maximum production at all times.
He thanked the two communities of Aking and Osomba for their foresight in donating the land and assured that in the nearest future poverty and unemployment will be a thing of the past in the area.
“We named this plantation Ayade Legacy Farm because it is a legacy this government will leave behind just like Dr Michael Okpara did for the people of South Eastern Region when he was Premier and till today those estates he cultivated are still yielding revenue”.
Mr Okon Awuna, the Commissioner for Agriculture commended Ofuka for his tireless effort in bringing the vision to reality and called on the chiefs, youths and people of the two communities to support and adopt the plantation as their project because it will be a revenue spinner for them
He said as an indigene of the area, he will ensure maximum benefits accrue to the people for their donation of land for the project.
Ntufam Patrick Obasse,the clan head of the Aking community expressed gratitude to the government for citing the plantation in the community and assured that the estate will be protected at all times.