BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Cross River state governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that his administration has decided to aggressively harness the rich agricultural potentials of the state to create employment opportunities for its growing population.
This, he explained, necessitated the one industry per local government policy of his government.
He made this known in Calabar while welcoming officials of an agricultural servicing firm, CRO-PIT, who came for a presentation.
“I welcome you to Cross River State which is the epicenter of tourism. So you are welcome to a state that gives you the pleasure, the glamour, the time, the atmosphere to actually have an opportunity and a sense of value as you come in.
“During your stay here you will see that in the course of time, apart from the opportunity we present in the agro sector, we also present a state that has the right environment, the right industrial harmony for industrialization to thrive, the governor told the CRO-PIT visiting team.
He commended the team for a brilliant presentation, hinting that Cross River would explore areas of partnership with the firm.
“I am quite enthused that you have a direct partnership with an Israeli firm that I know and I saw all the other partners including those that provide technical support. I saw that you are in 22 states and you have agricultural extension services and your IT support system which perhaps captures everything we so need”, Ayade stated.
Enumerating the agro-economic opportunities that abound in the state, the governor said: “In Cross River State, we have nearly one industry per local government area. If you spoke with my Commissioner of Agriculture he will tell you that in Obubra we have a glucose syrup factory coming up to take full beneficiation of the cassava production.
“Today in Nigeria most companies that produce soft drinks use fructose basically as their major source of sugar. So maltose, fructose, glucose syrup will all be products of our cassava-based production.
“In my own local government, Obudu, we have set up a sesame seed processing plant to process sesame seed for export to Europe. So we are tying every local government to their area of priority and that is where your mapping capability comes in because we need to do a proper soil profiling of the entire state.
“Up the Obudu cattle ranch we started a very aggressive program which formed the basis for the cargo airport. We are hoping to grow ornamental flowers, scented flowers for the production of perfume concentrate for export to France and Holland. We are also going massively into potatoe production for the export of potato just like Rwanda does to France. Potatoes grown in the Obudu cattle ranch are organic in nature, very high in terms of nutritional value with very little additives. So it will be the choice potato in France”
on his part, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Ntufam Okon Owuna disclosed that Over 70% of the present policy thrust of Cross River State is based on agriculture.
“The state government has acquired over 25000 hectares of land across the senatorial districts and it is being prepared and made ready for agricultural cultivation”, the Commissioner said.
Earlier, the Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of CRO-PIT, Mr. Kenneth Ahaneku said his firm currently manages over 600,000 farmers around the country.
Ahaneku said his firm was eager to partner with Cross River in agricultural management.
“CRO-PIT Nigeria limited is an organization involved in the management and financing and production of crops for farmers in partnership with the Central Bank.
”At present, we are managing over 600 thousand farms and our target is to hit five million farmers. We will be seeking partnership with the Cross River State government in the area of storage, bagging and distribution of the rice produced at the Ogoja rice mill”, he said.