The Akwa Ibom government has reaffirmed its commitment to the production of cocoa on a large-scale as well as ensure that cocoa farmers play a key role in the economic sector of the country.
The commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Dr. Matthew Nathan Ekaette, who stated this while exchanging views with the paramount ruler of Ini, Ntoeng Effiong Udo Akpan, at his palace said that his government had discovered that cocoa could thrive very well in the local government.
Ekaette, who was accompanied by technical experts from John Kouffor Foundation, Ghana, noted that the government is committed to changing the investment direction of the state.
According to him, farmers in the rural areas should be financially buoyant enough to be able to send their children to the best schools around the nation and beyond and equally contribute to the society meaningfully. This he said was not so at present.
He said the administration would reverse the trend by getting cocoa farmers to do their jobs and get reward for it.
Ekaette said the ongoing cocoa revolution in the state promises to be a major source of revenue to the state government because it had brought in experts from Ghana to help the farmers increase their production.
“Cocoa production in the state is low and the pruning exercise currently going on in the state is aimed at improving cocoa yields from the present 300kg per hectare to 600kg per hectare between 2016-2017 from 600kg/hectares to 900kg/hectares between 2017-2018; from 900kg/hectare to 1000kg/hectare between 2018-2019; from 1000kg/hectare to 1500kg/hectare between 2019 -2020,” he stated.
On his part, one of the experts, Dr. Abraham KayKay observed that the potential of cocoa farmers in the state exceeded those that could be found in Ghana.