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Cocoa, oil palm projects in Cross River to gulp $55m

The World Bank, alongside Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with other supporting partners have earmarked $5 million and $50m respectively to boost cocoa production and…

The World Bank, alongside Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with other supporting partners have earmarked $5 million and $50m respectively to boost cocoa production and palm fruits cultivation in Cross River State.

The projects, which come under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will now be executed in three years instead of the earlier scheduled five years.

This was disclosed by the communications director of the programme, Mr Ogisi Excel, in Calabar when FAO in conjunction with implementing partners held a one-day ‘Infoception Workshop’ to announce the commencement of activities to actualise the projects, which have four major components.

Excel explained that eight local government areas in the state are to be impacted in the two agricultural projects.

“Two states in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria were selected for these projects due to the density of their tropical forests, landscapes and the valuable ecosystems.

“These projects are funded by the World Bank through Global Environment Facility. But in Nigeria, the FAO are official partners of GEF who are executing the projects of regenerating cocoa plantations and palm fruits as well as creating alternative livelihoods agric programmes for forests communities in the selected LGAs.

“Project fund is $5m from World Bank but we expect accumulated financial involvement to go up to $50m because of co-financing.

“5000 farmers in Cross River are to benefit from the projects, with 50 per cent of them women and youths. They will be given land titles, not Certificates of Occupancy. These will further enable them to access findings from CBN, Bank of Agriculture and other creditors who are all aware of these projects.”

Excel added that the funds would be directly disbursed to the beneficiaries, not middlemen.

National project coordinator, Prof Oladapo Adeyemi, said that the objective of the project is to transform the cocoa and oil palm production systems and landscapes towards sustainability and resilience, delivering multiple environmental and social benefits.

He disclosed that the two major projects will situate in the Ministries of Agric and Irrigation development as well as livestock and fisheries because the projects have many other components.

He strongly appealed to the concerned commissioners to demonstrate required reciprocity to advance the projects.

Corroborating other commissioners, that of lands in the state, Francis Ekpenyong, assured that the state government which is very happy with the projects will provide needed lands and do all possible to ensure their success.

Speaking on behalf of the concerned paramount rulers in the eight LGAs, HRM Geraldine Otu also expressed happiness for the project, assuring that they will give necessary traditional supports, especially prayers for the success.

 

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