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C'River, Namel Sign MoU to Develop 12,000 Hectares of Farm Land

In a significant move towards the commercialization of agriculture in the State, Cross River State Government has sealed a partnership deal with the Nigeria Agricultural, Mechanization and Equipment Leasing Company ( NAMEL) to develop 12,000 hectares of land across the State, beginning with 2000 hectares in Odukpani Local Government Area for the first phase of the project.

This strategic move, according to the Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Hon. Johnson Ebokpo, demonstrates Governor Otu's commitment to revolutionizing the State's Agricultural Sector and repositioning it as a commercial hub for prospective investors.

Signing the agreement in his office, Hon. Ebokpo described the partnership as the first step to increasing the State's productivity level.

He commended the State Governor for bringing his long-standing vision to bear, rating the deal as one of the major milestones achieved within one year of his administration.

"We will be clearing 12,000 hectares of land beginning with 2000 hectares in Odukpani before proceeding to other LGAs."

The Commissioner explained that the land will be partitioned into small holder portions to farmers for large scale cultivation of crops such as maize, cassava, rice, cow pea, cattle fodder, among others, affirming that the State is gradually transiting from subsistence to commercial agriculture.

Highlighting the benefits of the project which include: transforming the landscape of the host communities, infrastructural development and revenue generation for the State and even the Local Government Areas, Hon Ebokpo extended appreciation to

His Royal Highness, Etubom Justin Asuquo and other representatives of Eki Odot and Ediong - host communities for making the land available, appealing for cooperation of the concerned parties to realize the Governor's vision in that regard.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of NAMEL, Dr. Ahmed Adekunle maintained that the Company has the capacity to facilitate Mechanized farming which will address the challenge of land preparation and also improve productivity.

He thanked the Governor for the confidence reposed in NAMEL and assured the host Communities of adequate corporate social responsibilities

In an interview with Pressmen, Dr. Adekunle emphasized the need to venture into large scale farming, explaining that when farm lands are contiguous, it is easy to fund, deliver extension services, invest and achieve increased productivity.

He disclosed that in few weeks the company will open up 500 hectares with Cross River State "Project Grow" already on ground to deploy farmers.

Similarly, His Royal Highness, Etubom, Hon. Justin Asuquo who represented the host Communities in Odukpani LGA, assured the Communities' cooperation, noting that "we have envisaged the benefits of the project in our community amongst our people. We assure you that we will work together as partners."

The momentous event gradually wound down as The Chief of Staff to Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Ironbar represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Dominic Ogbeche, State Project Director of Project Grow, Mr. Denis Ikpali, Acting Programme Manager of Cross River State Agricultural Development Programme, Mr. Bassey Emogor, took turns to express good will messages and commitment to the project.

The financial institution was not left out as the Deputy Manager of Zenith bank, Magdalyn Wilson and NAMEL's Bank - United Bank for Africa, represented by Linda Ogundu equally pledged total support to the cause.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Mr Ekpe Bassey, expressed optimism that the project will unlock the potentials of agriculture in the State and open a plethora of opportunities for the sector.

Blessing Enagu