By Isaiah Eka
The Akwa Ibom Government has begun the distribution of 600, 000 cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state preparatory to this year’s planting season.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Offiong Offor, performed the distribution of the seedlings to farmers in Ini Local Government Area on Tuesday.
Offor said that Ini was the cocoa belt of the state, abundantly blessed by God with natural resources and land to grow many crops, as the food basket of the state.
She expressed appreciation to the governor for all his support to farmers over time, as demonstrated in distribution of different inputs to enhance food production.
“We have carried out distribution of inputs since the beginning of the planting season for different crops such as cassava, maize, vegetables, oil palm and today is for cocoa.
“Other crops will also be shared in the near future.
“This is done to show that food is the most important need of man, it is of essence to support farmers to produce food to raise the food sufficiency level in the state,” Offor said.
The commissioner said that the essence of distributing the seedlings was to increase cocoa production, to ensure that the state is ranked as one of the top producers of cocoa in Nigeria.
Earlier, the State Chairman, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Mr Ekikere Bassey, assured government of their readiness to properly harness the cocoa seedlings distributed to the group.
He said that the association would ensure that the seedlings got to all farmers in the state.
Bassey commended the state government for the gesture, adding that the state governor had being a model to the farmers in planting and cultivation of cash crops.
He said the association in the state had facilitated the increase in the price of cocoa from N1, 000 per kilo to N1, 700 to the benefit of the farmers.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Ini local government, Mr Israel Idaisin, commended the efforts of the state government for supporting cocoa farmers with seedlings.
He was represented by his vice, Mr Marcus Udo.