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Akwa Ibom confident of achieving 2m coconut trees target, says commissioner

By Ayoyinka Jegede, Uyo
24 November 2022   |   2:40 am
The Akwa Ibom State government has expressed confidence of meeting the December target of planting at least two million coconut trees in the state.

Cocoa trees intercropped with coconuts

The Akwa Ibom State government has expressed confidence of meeting the December target of planting at least two million coconut trees in the state.

This assurance is coming on the heels of doubts that the multi billion naira St Gabriel Coconut Oil Refinery in Mkpat Enin Local Council may be underutilised due to inadequate coconut fruits to meet up with the required quantity for its two million coconut per day refining capacity.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Offiong Offor, who disclosed this in Uyo, said more than one million hybrid seedlings have already been planted in the last six years at various locations in the state in a renewed effort to meet the demands of the refinery.

According to him, new plantations have been established in Okobo, Ini and Eket to compliment the main plantation sandwiched between Eastern Obollo/Mkpat Enin/Ikot Abasi, while an initiative aimed at encouraging the growing of the plant in public secondary schools have been expanded to public primary schools, local councils and traditional rulers council.

“Already, we have done more than half of the two million and so the fraction remaining is not so much and we have plantations in different parts of the state. We have in Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obollo and Ikot Abasi. We also have in Eket, Okobo and the one recently commissioned at Ini local council. So we are going to meet with that target by the end of the year, we don’t have any fears about the target.

“I have heard people say the plantations are not doing well, but they are. Some of them have been adjudged to be the best in Nigeria, better than the one in Lagos. Even the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), adjudged the plantations in Akwa Ibom to be the best and with the best variety of coconut you can find anywhere in the world.

“But we have to thank the Governor for his vision of raising the raw materials base for the refinery because when the plantations start fruiting we won’t have issues feeding that factory. So just like a baby when she is birthed, she must sit; crawl before she can stand on her feet, so people should not have fears that we will not have raw materials to feed that factory.

“You should also know that before that factory was established, a feasibility was carried out and things were put in place to ensure that we meet up with the demand for that factory. So we should applaud Governor Udom Emmanuel’s vision for agriculture in the state because he has laid down things that Akwa Ibomites will use to leverage in the future,” She explained.

The coconut oil refinery according to her has already commenced refining at a limited scale using fruits from the main plantation and private growers who had earlier embraced the coconut initiative when it was launched some years ago.

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