Cross River plans N30bn agric development fund
The Cross River State Government on Saturday announced plans to unveil a N30 billion commercial agriculture development fund that would enable farmers to have access to loans as part of efforts to ensure food sufficiency and boost agriculture in the state.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Mr. Johnson Ebokpo, and his counterpart in the Information ministry, Mr. Erasmus Ekpang, jointly announced this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar, the state capital.
Ebokpo said the fund which would be provided and guaranteed by the state government, would be warehoused by a consortium of banks.
He said the fund was meant to move farmers from subsistence farming to commercial farming and at the same time boost the agricultural value chain in the state.
Ebokpo said that the project would focus on boosting maize, cassava, aquaculture and rice farming and also to ensure all-year-round farming in the state.
He said the reason for the government intervention was to address the difficulty encountered by farmers in accessing loan facilities.
“We have for instance flour mills in Calabar which had to rely on maize supply of about N60 billion annually from Kano, Kaduna and other states from the North.
“Cross River has about 1.8 million hectares of arable land suitable for all sorts of agricultural purposes but does not have the funds to cultivate much maize to feed the flour mill here.
“What the government of Prince Bassey Otu is trying to do is to commit this fund with the consortium of banks where farmers can have access to it for six years.
“Principally, the fund is coming from the state government but the banks and international development partners can bridge the gap when they see the commitment of the government,” he said.
Similarly, the information commissioner said that the state would soon launch the Code River State-Wide Irrigation Infrastructure Development Project.
Ekpang said that the aim was to promote all-year-round agricultural production and also to attract investments in the cassava sub-sector.
To actualise this, he said that the state had developed a Cassava Value Chain Development Policy framework for public-private partnerships.
“The governor had embarked on an aggressive drive to reduce fiscal wastage and subsidise productivity in a manner that would foster long-term prosperity.
“The government had made tremendous roads into the agricultural sector. This administration had commenced soil survey and fertility mapping of Cross River State.
” The government has also embarked on an aggressive elevation of the state oil palm production status with the development of 3.5 million oil palm seedling nurseries in 13 designated locations across the state,” he said.
The commissioner also said the administration had equally commenced the Home Stead Farming Project to mitigate food insecurity and resultant high cost.