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FAO, stakeholders plan cocoa, coffee, oil palm development in C’River

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In the bid to achieve the mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a committee on a seven-year strategic development of cocoa,  coffee and oil palm held a capacity-building workshop in Calabar for members.

The workshop, which had key stakeholders in the coffee, cocoa and oil palm sub-sectors met in Calabar, Cross River State, to draw out strategic plans to bolster greater yields and rake in revenues for the benefit of smallholder farmers and the state government.

Recall that the government of Senator Bassey Otu inaugurated a committee on strategic development for cocoa,  coffee and oil palm to develop a seven-year plan for the sector.

To achieve this, the committee, headed by Professor Susan Ben Ohen, in collaboration with FAO of the UN, who is the lead facilitator, and other donor agencies met to discuss the way forward for the development of agriculture in the state.

Ohen stated, “We’re developing strategies for the state in these three crops. We have had serious meetings and have set goals and objectives. The training for members and stakeholders will enable them to know the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the enumerated sectors. The outcomes from these whole processes will impact farmers, processors, marketers, banks, government, etc.”

Corroborating this, the National Vice Chairman of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, in Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers states, Mr Godwin Ukwu, said the seven-year plan will help develop the cocoa business, adding that it is what they had yearned for over the years.

He said, “It was a problem to get a roadmap for cocoa in Cross River State. We several times advocated for this plan. The present administration appears determined to reposition cocoa, which was neglected so that our plantations became aged and are now dying.”

He said Cross River State ought to be the number one cocoa-producing state but for lack of political will and assistance to boost production and regenerate the estates.

“By what government and partners are doing, it’s almost certain that the state will situate at the number one spot which has been our dream.”

Cross River State Commissioner for Agriculture, Johnson Ebokpo, said they want to increase production of the three cash crops, so that the state can generate more revenues, and individual farmers can make more money.

Ebokpo said, “We are looking at the entire value chains of the three crops as we’re determined to add more values, increase yields, attract more farmers, and intensify building of capacity of committee members and farmers. This is why we are collaborating with FAO and other donor agencies.”

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