By Tony Nyong
Uyo â€” Akwa Ibom State has been tipped as one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Governmentâ€™s N1 billion agricultural development loan expected to be ready next week.
Governor Godswill Akpabio, who disclosed this during the opening of the Oil Palm Stakeholders Forum held at the Civil Service Audito-rium, Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat, last weekend, said the state was determi-ned to pursue agricultural development like every other infrastructural development.
Akpabio, who was represented by the Commis-sioner for Agriculture, Prof. Etok Ekanem, disclosed that efforts to fully revitalise the agricultural sector in the state had led to the development of 5,000 hectares of oil palm plantation in the state.
He also hinted that the state had taken into consideration the fast-fading nature of petroleum products and the need to develop other sectors of the economy to create an economically-balanced state.
To realise these goals, he revealed that contracts had been awarded for the construction of one of the three proposed hatcheries at Mbiaya Uruan, adding that commercial rice production had also started at Ibiono.
Chief Akpabio, however, urged farmers to co-operate with government and other relevant agencies to ensure that the stateâ€™ agricultural sector was revitalized and that the state took a leading role in agriculture.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Etok Ekanem, disclosed that the present administration in October 2009 decided to address the entire value chain of the oil palm industry by granting approval for a delegation of government officials under the ministryâ€™s leadership to visit Malaysia for bilateral discussions.
The state, according to the Agric. Commissioner, currently has the highest concentration of oil palm on the West African Coast, noting that this had been the mainstay of the stateâ€™s economy before the advent of crude oil.
He noted that the strategic importance of oil palm had necessitated government intervention substantially.
The community plantation development scheme (CPDS) is, according to him, one of such intervention from government to develop clusters of oil palm, rubber and cocoa plantations by communities, clans or individuals.