Cocoa is a very expensive cash crop of global status; a pod of this improved variety costs about N480, while the price of a bag of cocoa seeds has risen from N45,000 to N100,000.
Cross River has discovered new gold in cocoa cultivation and processing.
Dr Oscar Ofuka, Special Adviser to Cross River's Gov. Ben Ayade on Cocoa Development, made the declaration in Calabar on Thursday.
He was speaking at the harvesting and distribution of improved cocoa seedlings from the state's demonstration farm to farmers in the southern senatorial district of the state.
He urged the people of the southern senatorial district to go into cocoa cultivation, as the state needed to de-emphasize earnings from the Federation Account and pay close attention to cocoa development.
"Cocoa is a very expensive cash crop of global status; a pod of this improved variety costs about N480, while the price of a bag of cocoa seeds has risen from N45,000 to N100,000.
"We have discovered gold in Cross River—something more important than crude oil." This is why the governor is going round the state to site industries that will boost cocoa development and enhance agriculture,'' he said.
Traditional Rulers from the Efut kingdom during the harvest of cocoa at the Demonstration Farm in Calabar on Thursday
Ofuka said having successfully rejuvenated cocoa estates and plantations in Etung, Ikom, and Boki local government areas, all in the Central senatorial district, the government decided to move to the Southern senatorial district.
He said in the Southern senatorial district, the government planted 3,800 hectares of cocoa in Akimosomba in the Akamkpa Local Government Area and acquired swathes of land in other local government areas for the same purpose.
He noted also that the government started a model cocoa farm in Calabar after investigating and confirming that the climatic conditions of the south were also very favorable for cocoa cultivation.
"Today, we are witnessing the harvesting and distribution of this improved variety from our model farm in Calabar. There is a ready market for cocoa at the cocoa processing factory established in the state.
"I appeal to traditional rulers in the Southern senatorial district to make land available to the next administration for continuous development of cocoa," Ofuka said.
In his remarks, His Majesty, Maurice Okon-Eyo 1, the Muri Munene of Efut kingdom, thanked the governor of Cross River for his industrialization drive in agriculture and in the cocoa subsector.
Okon-Eyo also thanked Ofuka for bringing cocoa awareness to the southern part of Cross River.
"My council and I will go back and educate our people and get them to embrace the vision of the state government in the cocoa revolution."
"This is because I don't think there is any other cash crop that can give you the kind of money in the shortest possible time like cocoa,'' the traditional ruler added.