Neglect by govt blamed for decline in cocoa production in Cross River

National Vice Chairman of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, CAN, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers states zone, Mr Godwin Ukwu, has blamed neglect by Cross River State Government for the decline in cocoa production in the state.

He noted that Cross River ranked number two in cocoa production in Nigeria, behind Ondo State.

Ukwu spoke at a training workshop held in Calabar for key players in the cocoa, coffee and oil palm sectors.

According to him, cocoa estates in the state planted by late Dr Michael Okpara, former Premier of the defunct Eastern Region in the 1960s, have aged and are dying without plans to regenerate them.

He said they have been advocating for a roadmap for proper development of the sector to enable real growth.

He however lauded the inauguration of a committee on strategic development of cocoa, coffee and oil palm by the state government.

“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 ought to be 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 most certain that the state will situate at number one spot which has been our dream”, Okwu said.

The training workshop on strategic plan for development of the cocoa, coffee and oil palm sectors was organised by Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, FAO, in collaboration with Cross River State government.

Chairman of the committee on strategic development of cocoa, coffee and oil palm, Professor Susan Ben Ohen, said, “We’re actually 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.”

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