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PRESS RELEASE: Gov Otu flags-off 12,000 hectares land development project for arable crops cultivation

Cross River State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu, has flagged off land clearing and developing 12,000 hectares of farmland for onboarding out-growers.

The out-growers are expected to cultivate rice, maize, cassava, wheat, coffee and cowpea.

Speaking at the flagging off event held at Efeidem community in Odukpani Local Government Area, Governor Otu disclosed that the project is a partnership with NAMEL (Nigerian Agricultural Mechanization and Equipment Leasing Company) and the State is investing six billion naira.

He reiterated his administration's prime priority to strengthen human capacity in Agriculture, health, education and wealth creation, making agriculture the fulcrum of the state's economy.

"This project would take over 4,000 people out of the unemployment market. Wealth is going to be created in such an unprecedented manner. Gone are the days where Cross River is referred to as a poor state.

"We are not coming to take your land. We are coming to empower you in a way that you will make money, as well as all the contributors to the value chain would also make money. It is going to be a win-win for all.

"The direction of our movement is 'People First'. No matter what you do, if the people are not happy and strong, the community, State or nation cannot grow; hence our quest for equitable creation of wealth," Otu remarked.

The Governor, a son of the soil in Odukpani, thanked his kinsmen and women for their unflinching support over the years, and charged them to take the agribusiness project very seriously, while assuring that "we have all the technical and extension officials who would be on ground to make sure that the correct chemicals are applied to boost yield, ensure that things are done in a way that would derive maximum benefits for all parties involved."

He stressed that the statewide soil investigation and mapping exercise already undertaken to determine what grows where, lends credence to the present administration's preparedness to launch Cross River into economic prosperity through agriculture.

Earlier in his address, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Hon. Johnson Ebokpo, hailed the Governor for his foresighted vision, having planned some of these laudable programmes years before he took the reins as the number one citizen of the State.

Ebokpo averred that the Otu-led administration ventured into the wealth creating project upon the realization that arable crop production in commercial quantity are the key to unlocking the state's agrarian rural economies, with government shouldering the most difficult responsibility which is land preparation.

The Commissioner predicted that government's huge amount of investment into the project would only catapult Cross River to becoming a national reference point for food security and wealth creation.

The Commissioner noted that the exercise is part of the administration’s Project Grow initiative which is is a Public Private Partnership project facilitated by the Cross River State government to empower 100,000 agribusinesses MSMEs and Small-holder farmers (SHF) (up to 40% youths and women) across the 18 LGAs of Cross River State.

Mr. Dennis Ikpali of the Project GROW, the driver of the initiative, said market dynamics drive the project to stimulate private sector investments in key agricultural value chains - Rice, Maize, Aquaculture, Cassava and Animal fodder.

The outpour of goodwill messages from financial institutions, agro-industry heavyweights, research institutions, and other stakeholders thanked the Governor for prioritising agriculture as the cornerstone of the State's economic development.

Namel, the technical partner of the project to provide the machineries needed.

Nsa Gill

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor