By Jonathan Ugbal, Government House Correspondent
The agricultural sector in Cross River State is set to receive a boost as the federal government has begun processes leading to the building of an Agriculture Industrial Town (AIT) and Staple Crop Processing Zone (SCPZ) in the state.
The state is one of the three selected for the pilot program with the other two been Benue and Kogi states which forms part of the agreements reached by the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan when he visited Israel in 2013 in company of the three state governors.
Cross River governor, Benedict Ayade while receiving a delegation of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development led by the State Director, Asibong Bassey who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Calabar recently said the State is willing to partner the federal government in the project and sought for some clarifications on the nature of the project.
Ayade represented by his Deputy, Ivara Esu said “Agriculture is one of the major areas of interest of this administration and its development is sine qua non with the development of the country”.
He said the state will like to be seen as the first where the project is first established with focus on crops such as Rice, Maize, Cocoa and Palm which is dominant here due to the favorable weather and soil conditions.
Asibong who had in her company representatives of the agricultural division of LR Group, an Israeli company engaged to bring the project to fruition, in her remarks said the team visited the state in November 2014, but could not embark on a site tour due to obvious reasons.
Asibong added that “the industrial town aims at wooing unemployed youths to take up businesses in agriculture which forms part of the agricultural transformation agenda of the previous administration”.
She added that lands will be provided and the town fully mechanized as well as social facilities which will be made available. The proceeds from the project according to her will be absorbed into the SCPZ which serves as a market.
She also said it will be a Public Private Partnership between the Federal and State governments and investors.