The Cross River Government on Monday launched the first phase of the nursery of one million cocoa seedlings in Akim/Osomba communities in Akamkpa Local Government Area.
Gov. Ben Ayade, who was represented at the ceremony by his Special Adviser on Cocoa Development, Mr Oscar Ofuka, said that the project was part of his administration’s efforts to make cocoa the largest revenue earner for the state.
He said that the location of the cocoa nursery in Akamkpa Local Government Area (LGA) was to prove that cocoa could be cultivated in every area of the state.
“Today is a great day for the people of Akim/Osomba communities; we want to prove to the world that Cross River is the largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria.
“Cocoa is our heritage and with the ongoing cocoa revolution programme in Cross River, we have decided to look at every nook and cranny of the state to revive this age-long heritage.
“Very soon, Cross River will not have to depend on allocations from the Federation Account to fund our projects because our cocoa can give us the much-needed revenue to do whatever we want,’’ he said.
Ayade said that the state government, through its Department of Cocoa Development, had already acquired 300,000 hectares of land in the two communities for the project.
“Right now, we have raised 800,000 seedlings nurseries and within the week, our one million target will be achieved for the first phase,’’ he said.
The governor said that the cocoa seeds for the nursery were acquired from the Cocoa Research Institute, Ikom, adding that within three months, the seedlings would be due for planting.
Ayade said that the cocoa estate, which would be large enough to accommodate a school and a hospital, would be provided with electricity, just as in other cocoa estates in Ikom and Etung local government areas of the state.
He urged the people, especially the youths and women in the communities, to take advantage of the opportunity to engage in farming to make life more meaningful to them.