The Cross River State government has made a case for its involvement in the $65 million agricultural intervention fund proposed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) towards the provision of financial aid and technical expertise to bolster the growth of the agricultural value chain across major agriculture-oriented states in the country .
Ben Ayade, the state governor, made the appeal during a meeting with Fred Kafeero, FAO’s representative in Nigeria, at the State Executive Council Chamber of the governor’s office in Calabar, the state capital.
Speaking on agriculture-based achievements recorded by the state, Ayade disclosed that his administration’s agricultural value chain policy has resulted in the establishment of various agro-based industries in local government areas of the state where raw materials for such industries are in abundance.
He also highlighted the need for the inclusion of agricultural value chains beyond cocoa and oil palm to grow other sub-sector enough potentials to boost economic growth.
According to the governor, asides cocoa and oil palm of which the state is one of the leading producers in the country, his administration has taken advantage of the abundance of groundnut in Bekwarra Local Government Area and established a groundnut vegetable oil processing plant poised to expand the production of the produce in the state.
He also emphasised the need for the state to work closely with the food agency to fully realise its agricultural objectives, adding that his administration’s core value chain focuses on the agricultural transformation of the state.
On his part, Kafeero said that the purpose of the visit was to initiate a progressive dialogue with the state to know its priority on the agricultural value chain and where the FAO can assist.
The FAO’s country representative also assured of the agency’s preparedness to support the state in its agricultural revolution, adding that it will be one of the states to get $65 million to promote FAO’s core agric value chain which is cocoa and oil palm.
Commenting on the $65 million intervention fund, Ayade said the state’s partnership with the FAO is of relevance to the actualisation of sustained food security and economic diversification beneficial to not just the state but the country at large. He appealed to the FAO to ensure that the funds generate practical values by providing the required financial intermediation and technical expertise rather than being spent on workshops, seminars and training.