Cross River talks possibility in green economy
Cross River State is one of the three states, with least allocation from the federation account, following the loss of Bakassi to Cameroon and 76 oil wells to Akwa Ibom State.
However, determined to survive, government is engaging in serious agriculture drive. If the words of the chairman of the state’s farmers’ council, Mr. Owen Oyama, were to be taken seriously, in the next two years, the state would reap bountifully from agriculture.
Speaking with The Guardian at the World Honeybee Day celebration in Ikom, on the agriculture policy programme of the state, vis-à-vis farming, Oyama said Governor Ben Ayade specifically established the farmers council to pilot the activities of farmers in all value chains, generate a robust data base to make policies that affect such value chains, by ensuring that farmers do not only have enough, but to also see that the state does not go hungry.
“We have robust farm policies. You can see most of our major projects are farm oriented. We have rice research institute in Calabar; we have the one in Obudu, the Bansara rice, cocoa processing in Ikom and other ones that span across the state. It is not only about industrialisation, agriculture programmes are spread across the state. As I talk to you now, we have cocoa revolution and for now our policy trust is on green economy.”
To achieve this green economy with less dependence on oil, Oyama said; “the approach we have adopted, speaking from the bee farming part of it, is already giving me an overview of the endless possibilities. They have told us already that bee itself has bee wax, pollen and other by-products of bee. I know too well that by the time we invest as little as N500, 000 for beehives of say 20 farmers and we pollinate them, we are going to be having in a year over N100m from bee farming as total value to this farmers.
“I am sure with our bee processing factory already in Obanliku, we do not even have any issue because we are going to process them there and send them for export. What we are talking about now is to collate and make them into cooperatives that will recognise and train them in packaging. We have to partner with Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and other related agencies to make sure that our products are not only accepted in Cross River State alone, but also for export. It may interest you to know that we have one of the best honeys in the world and given our pollen tree, which is rare. So we have virtually all the advantages to grow this and make sure we get enough from agriculture more than we think. Taking our partnership with tourism bureau, we are expanding more than we think.”
According to him, currently there are 250 beehives that were built by the Federal Government as an intervention for bee farming in Obanliku Local Council Area, which would be publicised to farmers. “We will exploit that to make sure we exploit honey for export from Obanliku. Before now, we have the Obudu honey, which I have not seen for sometime, but we will revive that value chain and make sure Cross River State is back on the world map.”
Besides bee farming, he said robust activities are going on in every other farming chain. “We have meetings with Catfish Farmers Association of Nigeria, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, and Cassava Growers of Nigeria, in an effort to boost agriculture. In October, we would be having the World Food Day and all the relevant value chains will come and showcase what they have.