Okon Bassey in Uyo
Akwa Ibom state government has said that in the next three years, it will increase cocoa production in the state to 80,000 acres of plantation.
The State Government also restated its commitment to undertaking the cocoa maintenance and production scheme as well as Coconut Oil Refinery in the state.
According to Governor Udom Emmanuel, the state investment in that aspect of agriculture was because of their viable value chain as the price of cocoa and coconut oil remained higher than crude oil in the international market.
Speaking in Uyo at the launch of Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme, AKEES, the governor said the scheme was to ginger Akwa Ibom youths to explore other avenues for economic growth through aggressive Agricultural enterprise.
Emmanuel said his administration would continue to encourage cocoa cultivation by providing incentives to farmers with at least five hectares and explained that if the state could cultivate a hundred hectares of cocoa it will regain it ranking as one of the major producer of the crop.
“Akwa Ibom used to be the fourth largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria and we are ready to get back there. Our target, which is very measurable, is that in the next one and half year, we want to double current production. In the next three years, we expect to have up to 70,000 to 80,000 acres of cocoa plantation in Akwa Ibom. I am sure with that we will rank among the first two in Nigeria”, he stressed.
He said the specie of cocoa produced in the state has the best flavour and that a business retreat to brainstorm on how to utilise the various natural endowments to create wealth would be held to enable the State go into large scale production of cassava, tomatoes, vegetables and other cash crops with the application of the right technology to feed industries and for both local consumption and export.
He charged youths of the state to explore the abundant economic potentials to create wealth for sustainability and self reliance as God has endowed the state with enormous human and natural resources that could be utilised to grow the economy, earn a living.
Emmanuel congratulated the beneficiaries of the scheme for taking a bold step to acquire innovative skills to boost their enterprises and described the scheme as an answer to the yearnings of Nigerians for the emergence of small and medium scale industrialisation programme.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters, Mr. Ufot Ebong had described AKEES as a franchise scheme incorporating technical and vocational skill acquisition and entrepreneurial training designed for the implementation of the state government’s new enterprise development programme.
The scheme, he added, was aimed at empowering unemployed youths to acquire skills that would enable them produce goods and services that compete with those in other climes and to re-awaken the spirit of enterprise among youths and position them to benefit from the industrialisation programme of the state government.