The Akwa Ibom State government says it has set December 31 as deadline to realise its target to double its garri and rice production capacities.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Charles Udo-Inyang, who said this in Abuja, said the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, was anxious to see the price of garri, one of Nigeria’s staple foods, reduced by at least 50 per cent before the end of December.
Mr. Udo-Inyang, who was speaking at a reception organised in his honour by friends, relations and well-wishers to celebrate his appointment, said the state government also has the ambition of doubling the rice production capacity from the current 15 tons per annum to 30 tons before the end of the year.
“The state governor, Udom Emmanuel, is very passionate about developing the agricultural sector in the state. His ambition is to see Akwa Ibom State not become the premier destination for garri and rice production in West African sub-region, but also other major food crops in the country in the near future,” he said.
“The soil in Akwa Ibom is very fertile for agriculture. The ambition of the state governor is to see that his government takes advantage of that to grow cassava to reduce the price of garri by at least 50 per cent before the end of the year,” the Commissioner said.
To achieve the target, he said the state government was embarking on a programme to develop cassava plantations around the state, while also ensuring the cultivation of other staple food crops that grow well in the state.
He said already the state government was establishing cassava mills in various locations across the state to handle the processing of the commodity for exports, adding that several off-takers were already waiting to buy up the harvested crops from producers.
The Commissioner, who said the state government was also interested in growing grains like maize, said off-takers like Lever Brothers were ready to pay in advance for supplies ahead of production.
Other areas he said the state government hoped to develop into a foreign exchange earner, were in the cultivation of tree crops like cocoa and coconut for exports to the West Africa sub-region.
”The dream of the government is for the state to become a major coconut producer and exporter in the West African sub-region. Already, the state is investing massively in the establishment a coconut plantations and refineries to refine the commodity for exports,” the commissioner said.