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Cross River to Establish Six New Cocoa Farm Estates

The Cross River State Government has initiated plans to establish six  new Cocoa farm estates in six Local Government Areas of the State.
The plan was made public during a critical stakeholders engagement meeting held in Calabar, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development.
Speaking at the forum, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Hon. Johnson Andiambey Ebokpo KSM, disclosed the ongoing process of engaging stakeholders to acquire land for the establishment of cocoa estates in Akamkpa, Akpabuyo, Bekwara, Odukpani, Obubra, and Ikom Local Government Areas.

Ebokpo stressed the importance of stakeholders involvement to ensure the success of this initiative,  outlining criteria such as number of hectares, land suitability (soil analysis ) which has been in the works for quite some time, as well as community engagements which is at the forefront of Governor Out’s people first agenda.

He emphasized that the project will adopt a complete public-private partnership model, where the government in collaboration with the communities facilitate the development of the new estates.
The Commissioner  emphasized that forthwith, cocoa development would be in compliance with the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) which includes traceability of the cocoa source, ensuring that child Labour or forced labour is not used while also ensuring that farms are not established in government gazetted forest reserves.

“ This is to ensure that  areas degraded are restored through sustainable agro-forestry programmes by  intercropping such areas with shade trees to balance the ecosystem and preserve biodiversity, hence the ministry’s collaboration with the State Forestry Commission”, Ebokpo explained.

He further noted that as part of the program, Cocoa farms and  allottees, would be digitally enumerated immediately a farm is identified and deemed suitable, for ease of access to traceability information which will ensure that living income premiums are paid to deserving farmers.

Similarly, Mrs. Juliet Ntui, representing the TRACE project, commended the initiative for rural poverty alleviation and pledged their support.

Breakout sessions were held for each LGA to determine land allocation, followed by presentations of their decisions with Stakeholders who are committed to maintaining ongoing communications with their communities and providing feedback to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development for follow-up actions.

Goodwill messages were received from critical stakeholders who were in attendance among whom were, The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Erasmus Ekpang, Commissioner for Commerce, Dr. Abigail Duke, Commissioner for Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries Development, Ntufam Emmanuel Anom, Commissioner for Human Capital and Entrepreneurship Development, Hon. Kingsley Egumi, The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Prof. John Shiyam, RT Hon. Daniel Asuquo, the Chairman Forestry Commission, Rt. Hon. George Oben-Etchi, Technical Advisor, FAO GEF7 FOLUR IP project, Prof. Adebayo Shittu.

Others were; the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, CRSHA, Hon. Bette Obi, Chairman of the Multi-Stakeholder Committee on Strategic Plan development, Prof. Susan Ohen,  Vice Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Damian Agom,
Forestry Commissioner 1, Hon Emmanuel Abeng,    IRS Chairman, Prince Edwin Okon,  Chief Press Secretary to the Governor , Mr Nsa Gill, the Chairman Cocoa allocation Committee, Cosmas Nku, the State Chairman CFAN, Dr. Ramsey Ebam, Chief Surveyor Eyo Oku, Chairman CRS Policy Advisory Committee,  Prof. Eyo Etim Nyong,  the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Mr Ekpe Bassey as well as Directors of the host Ministry.

Nsa Gill