Cross River starts cotton cultivation, to make first harvest November

As part of the backward integration policy of Prof Ben Ayade's administration, Cross River State government is set to roll out 30 tonnes of cotton from its cotton farm by November this year.

The cotton farm situated in Woda community, Yala Local Government Area of the state, is in partnership with Arewa Cottons.

Managing Director, Arewa Cotton, Anibe Achimugu, in a chat with newsmen at the farm disclosed that "we will start by allocating parcels of land to the community farmers, train them and hope that they can now pass the knowledge to others.

"Members of the community are already working with us in terms of the casual labour that we need. Also, we are collating the small holders farmers as out growers," Achimugu said, adding that "the entire cotton value chain has the capacity to generate 10,000 jobs and a lot of that vistas of opportunity will come from Cross River State."

Achimugu further informed that about 30 thousand tons of cotton will be rolled out from the farm in November, a feat, he assured would be a gift to Governor Ayade.

According to him, "this is clearly in line with Governor Ayade’s backward integration policy and the only way to ensure the Calabar Garment Factory Factory operates at optimum capacity."

Stating that the farm is in line with the world best practices in agriculture as the team is led by an old staff of Institute of Agricultural research, the MD affirmed that they were attracted by the automated garment factory in the state, the complete value chain and the quick cash flow generation as well as the receptive nature of the people to investors.

Nigeria project manager of a Chinese firm, Ruyi Science and Technology group, Wu Xingtao, assured that his group found in Cross River State government a serious partner to do business with, accommodating and determined to develope the state garment factory with required raw materials, hence the need for the partnership.

Xingtao said: "We have plans to build textile factory in Nigeria, that means we need plenty cotton. We want to get plenty cotton from Nigeria and not to import so we are partnering with Cross River State government to make our textile factory easy."

Affirming the Chinese firm's doggedness to deliver, Facilitator/Director of the cotton farm project, High Chief Gabriel Umodem, disclosed that "we saw their projection in Australia and Pakistan and that is what we want to repeat here. All of them don't have the market that we have as the Nigerian market is too much. If you add that to the AGOA initiative, it means they come from China, produce in Nigeria and ship to America, so, Woda is going to be on the world map in terms of expansion.

"We promise that before the Carnival, a trailer load of a minimum of 30 tons of raw cotton will arrive the Calabar Garment Factory from our 2,000 hectares farm in Woda, Yala to show the world.

"Our technical partners are proposing a textile industrial park in Calabar that will produce 300 million meters capacity of fabrics per annum and the idea is that, they are overloaded back home, so, the Nigerian quota from their factory will come from Cross River."

He also assured that "we are not just doing cotton, we will gin, weave and intend to take over the garment factory and run it internationally."

On the community's support for Ayade's backward integration initiative, community leader and former National Assembly member, Hon Christopher Inyila Eriba said: "If we have land to offer, that will be our little contribution towards the agricultural revolution. At a time like this, in order to cope with economic recession with a lot of young graduates who need skill acquisition, it is expected that going into this kind of venture will give them that leverage and training."

Eriba added that "the community leaders, women and youths are happy, ready and in support of this project that will tremendously touch our lives. We pray that government should accomplish this laudable program."

Chanting "Ayade is a miracle worker", "Ayade is God sent", the youths of Woda said tbeirjou knew no bounds as the governor was making meaning out of their lives. They particularly thanked Ayade for establishing the cotton farm in Yala Local Government Area of the state.

Head, CRS Project monitoring office of Nigeria Incentive Based Risk sharing system, Mr. Uduzeli Progress, informed that his group was considering the type of model that will be suitable for the program.

"We have two models. One is called farm smart where you open a farm with large hectares of land, bring youths together, open a farm for them and monitor them.

We also have the anchors borrowers program by the CBN. In this case, we partner with CBN to access loans and give to farmers. So, we are thinking of which model that will suit this program."
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