Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has promised to turn the youths in the state into green millionaires through the revolutionary cocoa policy of his administration.
The governor made the pledge in Ikom while inspecting the construction of an ultra-modern cocoa processing plant being undertaken by his government.
Ayade was accompanied by his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu,â€ the Executive Director of Nigeria Export and Import Bank, Hon. Stella Okotete, and key state government functionaries.
Excited at the progress of work at the 30,000 metric tons processing factory, Ayade unveiled his administration policy that would make every willing young Cross Riverian a millionaire.
â€œThe commitment the government and people of Cross River State are making to Nigeria and indeed Africa is that we will ramp up production of cocoa to 350,000 metric tonnes per annum. With immediacy, we are going to create 100,000 hectres of cocoa estate and make them available to young men and women to cultivate.
â€œToday, Cross River State is offering her young men and women their own oil wells right at their backyard because every part of state is rich enough to grow cocoa.
â€œSo, I am saying that right at your backyard you are seeing your oil wells by just going into cocoa farming. We are ready to give you fund and if you grow beyond your carrying capacity, we have a partner in NEXIM Bank that has come in to fully support us,â€ he said.
Speaking after the inspection, Okoete lauded the state governmentâ€™s initiative, which she said is in line with the economic policy of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said: â€œIt is a laudable project because it is in line with Mr. Presidentâ€™s economic recovery and growth plans and I believe that this project is coming at the right time when we are looking outside the oil and more on export to generate foreign exchange not just for Nigeria but also for the good people of Cross River State.â€
She disclosed that her Bank, which is offering advisory services to the state on the project, will give the state all the support it needs to make the project a success.
According to her, â€œWe (NEXIM) are going to be providing financial advisory services and funding indications for the people of the state. We are giving Cross River State a hundred percent support and if they need above that we are ready to give them more. I commend Governor Ben Ayade because he is a man who sees tomorrow.
Also speaking, the National President, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Sayina Riman, described the project as wonderful and monumental which will further showcase Cross River as a leading state in cocoa production.
Riman, who is also the Vice President, World Cocoa producing Organisation said: â€œIn 2017, we are seeing a transformation that has never been seen before in South- South, South-east of the Niger. This is the first ever cocoa producing factory in this country and this will not only complement employment but will add value to what we have.â€