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FAO holds training on strategic development for cocoa, coffee, oil palm stakeholders in Cross River 

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By Akpan David, Calabar 

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with Cross River State government and Global Environment Facility has held a training workshop on strategic plan development for the cocoa, coffee and oil palm sub-sector in the state.

The training workshop held in Calabar had key players and officials from the three sectors as well as government officials, donor agencies and experts participating.

They laid out strategic plans on how to bolster greater yields and rake in revenues for the benefits of smallholder farmers and the state government. 

Few months ago, government of Senator Bassey Otu inaugurated a committee on strategic development for cocoa,  coffee and oil palm to develop a 7-year plan for the sector. 

Commissioner for agriculture, Johnson Ebokpo explained that the training was to underscore the fact that what the multi sectoral stakeholders are doing was pragmatic.

“We’re developing a 7-year plan. In doing this, we have broken it into thematic areas. One of the areas is capacity building on strategic planning. We’ll develop strategic plan.

“We are looking at entire value chains of the three crops as we’re determined to add more values, increase yields, attract more farmers, and intensify building of capacity of committee members and farmers. This is why we are collaborating with FAO and other donor agencies”, Ebokpo said.

He said they want to increase productions of the three cash crops, so that state can generate more revenues, and individual farmers can make more moneys.

In an interview, chairman of the committee on strategic development for cocoa,  coffee and oil palm, Professor Susan Ben Ohen said to achieve their objectives, they  have  collaborated with FAO, who are the lead facilitators, and other donor agencies.

Ohen said, “We’re actually developing strategies for the state in these three crops. We have had serious meetings and have set goals and objectives. The training for members and stakeholders will enable them to know the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in the enumerated sectors. The outcomes from these whole processes will impact farmers, processors, marketers, banks, government etc.”

Corroborating her views, the national vice chairman of Cocoa Association of Nigeria, CAN, for Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Rivers States zone, Mr Godwin Ukwu said the 7-year plan will help develop cocoa business, adding that it is what they had yearned for over the years.

“It was a problem to get a roadmap for cocoa in Cross River State. We several times advocated for this plan. The present appears determined to reposition cocoa which was neglected so that our plantations became aged and are now dying.”

He said Cross River ought to be number one cocoa producing State but for lack of political will and assistance to boost production and regenerate the estates.

“By what government and partners are doing, it’s most certain that the state will situate at number one spot which has been our dream”, Okwu said.

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