. Says 500,000MT annual cocoa production target on track
Bassey Inyang in Calabar and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Cross River State government has stated that it is working hard towards meeting its set target of generating about N13 billion from its Hybrid Rice Seedling factory inaugurated recently by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Professor Anthony Eneji, who made the disclosure, told journalists recently, during a guided tour of the factory, located at the Ayade Industrial Park, that it was expected to provide hybrid rice seedlings for use by rice farmers in the country.
“It is expected to meet the hybrid seed demands of the entire South-south and South-east zone,”Eneji said.
During the visit, the commissioner said the factory was constructed at an estimated cost of N3 billion.
He said the amount covered planning, design, construction and equipping the factory with machines, access roads, and the fields for cultivation of the seedlings.
The commissioner said the production of the seedlings would commence on 1000 hectares of land.
“If we get eight tons per hectare from each of these hectares, you multiply that by 1000 hectares, each harvest within three weeks or a month will yield a return of N1.2 billion….
“If you are selling one tone of hybrid rice at N150, 000, then you can use your calculator and do the arithmetic. You will know we are talking in billion of Naira,”he said.
Eneji said now, the factory is wholly owned by the state government.
“This is a totally self-sustaining project. If we manage it the way we are going, it can pay back whatever we are putting into this investment in three to four years….
“For management reasons the state has created a special SPV called Cross River Rice Company and charged it with management responsibility. It is under the Ministry of Agriculture. It is a state project,” the commissioner said.
He said the factory can handle rice seedlings of up to 200 or 300 hectares.
Continuing, he said, “The seedlings are raised on demand basis. You know they have to be taken off within three weeks.
“Our local rice; we are growing two tons per hectare at best. But with our hybrid seeds, we are aiming at minimum 8.5 to 9 tons per hectare.”
In a related development, the state government has assured that its target of achieving 500,000 metric tonnes of cocoa production annually was on course.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Cocoa Development, Dr. Oscar Ofuka disclosed this in Abuja, while updating journalists on the efforts being put in place by the state government a year after it held the first international cocoa summit organised in at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja.
He revealed that the state government had embarked on aggressive cultivation of cocoa by acquiring 300,000 hectares of land for cocoa planting.
Ofuka stated: “The governor’s vision is to ensure that we hit 500,000 metric tonnes of cocoa in a year, this is a very great because Nigeria as a country presently produces less than 300,000 metric tonnes.
“It is not just growing cocoa, we are adding value to cocoa, because the governor has constructed ultra modern cocoa processing industry in the state. On completion, the industry will crush 30,000 metric tonnes of cocoa per annum.
“Our target is to ensure that we hit the target and possibly at a point in time overtake Ivory Coast Côte de Viore, who is the highest producer of cocoa in the continent, while Nigeria is fourth,” he said.
Ofuka also revealed that in Akanpa area of the state, the state government had already acquired 3,8000 hectares of land for planting cocoa
He noted that the brand of cocoa that state is growing is purely organic because it attracts premium, stressing that the entire land in the state is suitable for the cultivation of cocoa