From Mfon Ekefre, Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State government says it will invest more in agriculture to make it a major source of revenue to the state government.
Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mathew Nathan Ekaette, stated government’s position while exchanging views with the paramount ruler of Ini Local Government are Ntoeng Effiong Effiong Akpan at the latter’s palace.
Ekaette, who was accompanied by Dr. Abraham Kay and four technical experts from John Kouffour Foundation Ghana, noted that government was committed to changing the investment direction of the state to sustain agriculture and give Akwa Ibom a place in the global food production map.
According to him, a farmer should be one of the financially buoyant individual in his community by being able to send his children to the best schools and contribute to the society from his resources as a farmer.
He said government has resolved to reverse the trend, saying that beyond ordinary getting cocoa farmers to do their jobs, they would get farming inputs on how best to handle issues, training of farmers to uplift his living standard and creating impact in the society from the government.
The commissioner hinted that the on-going cocoa revolution in the state promised to be a major source of revenue in the state.
He observed that cocoa production in the state was low and the pruning exercise was aimed at improving the cocoa yields from the present 300kg/hectares to 600kg/hectares between 2016-2017, from 600kg/hectares to 900kg/hectares to 1,000kg/hectares between 2018 to 2019, from 1,000kg/hectares between 2019 to 2020
Declaring open the zoning mapping exercise, Kay observed that the potential of cocoa in the state was far more that in Ghana.
During the pruning, farmers were trained on the maintenance operations, using farmer’s field school (FFS) model. They expressed gratitude to the government for initiating the training programme for farmers in the 70 cocoa producing communities.
The pruning exercise covered 13 local government areas, including Ini, Ikono, Uruan, Essien Udim, Abak, Ukanafun, Etim Ekpo, Mkpat Enin and Ibiono Ibom, Uyo, Ikot Ekpene Etinan and Obot Akara.
The remaining local governments Area, Ikot Abasi, Itu, Nsit Ubuim, Ibesikpo Asutan, Nsit Ibom, Oruk Anam and Onna will be covered before the end of the year.