By © JAE MEDIA.
Cross River State Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Hon. Johnson A. Ebokpo has assured the State Chapter of the National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NARPPMAN) of his ministry’s collaboration in the development of rubber and its value chains in the State.
The Commissioner who granted audience to the leadership of the Association in his office, hinted that as part of measures to boost the state’s GDP through Agriculture, the Rubber value chain has been integrated as a key mandate crop in the ministry’s plan.
Referring to His Excellency, Governor Bassey Otu’s resolve to reduce waste and subsidize productivity in the Agriculture sector, Commissioner Ebokpo averred that it is pertinent for all stakeholders to key into the agricultural revolution and drive it to a productive economy.
In the area of policy approach to the revolution, the Agriculture and Irrigation Development Commissioner stated that the ministry is undergoing reorganization in line with the new governance architecture of the State to streamline schedules of departments which will equally make provision for oversight functions of the various value chains integrated by the ministry. He called for a robust technical engagement with NARPPMAN for the development of a clear policy document on rubber and its entire value chains.
Responding to the issue of encroachment on rubber plantations across the State, Commissioner Ebokpo noted that it is a major challenge occasioned by the increasing human population and disclosed that the ministry is setting up a committee to re-ascertain the status of land banks in the State. He congratulated the new leadership of the association and urged them to be more visible with their activities for better awareness, while also promising that other concerns of the association would be duly addressed.
Earlier, the State Chairman of NARPPMAN Mr. Umo Inameti, introduced the group as a commodity association nurtured and formed by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, responsible for the development of the rubber value chain in Nigeria.
Among other challenges, Mr. Inameti lamented that Cross River being a rubber producing State does not have a viable rubber processing factory, which he explained, has affected over 400 registered farmers and other critical stakeholders in the rubber value chain.
The Chairman stressed the need for an approved policy document to develop rubber and its value chains in Cross River State and appealed that the Government should set aside 100,000 hectares of land for the future development of the natural rubber industry in the State.
He also solicited the ministry’s collaboration in hosting a three-day National rubber conference on the development and industrialization of the rubber sub-sector in Nigeria, coming up in 2024 as well as a budgetary provision for the rubber value chain in the 2024 budget.
In separate remarks, the Managing Director, of PAMOL Nig. Ltd., Mr. Fidelis Obi, and the Association’s Vice President, South-South, Mr. Usen Umo appreciated the Commissioner for the audience to discuss the challenges of rubber development in the State.
They expressed great concern over the current status of PAMOL which used to be economically viable with over 3000 workers now left with only 300 in the plantation with 70 percent of them on contract terms.
According to them, a significant expanse of the rubber plantations in the State has been lost to encroachment and others converted for other Agricultural activities.
The duo expressed hope that Governor Bassey Otu-led administration through the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development will prioritize rubber development and catapult it from its dwindling state to a highly productive value chain.