By G9ija

The Cross River Government says it has diversified its revenue generation from crude oil to cocoa.

Dr Oscar Ofuka, Special Adviser to Gov. Ben Ayade on Cocoa Development and Control, made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Ofuka said the state government’s decision followed the dwindling earnings from crude oil.

He said that the state government had made huge investments in cocoa, adding that thousands of jobs had also been created in the process.

“Our governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, was quick to realise that cocoa is the gold of Cross River.

“This gold was relegated in the past when crude oil was discovered, but now we plan to ensure that the state takes the lead in cocoa production.

“We have acquired 3,800 hectares of land for that purpose, and our youths have been sensitised and are ready to key into the cocoa initiative,’’ he said.

The special adviser assured that Cross River had one of the best species of cocoa, “which is easy to cultivate.

“The brand of cocoa we cultivate is organic. It takes 18 months to germinate.

“Between 2015 and now, the cocoa sector has employed more than 5000 youths in the state.

“With the ceding of 776 oil wells to Akwa Ibom state, and Bakassi to Cameroon, the cocoa sector is now the major “funder” of infrastructural development in the state.

“I am urging all Nigerians to go back to agriculture; Nigerians should think cocoa and dream cocoa because it comes with huge economic benefits,’’ he advised.

He said that the government of Cross River had distributed improved variety of cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state as incentives.

“We have raised 10 million improved varieties of cocoa seedlings for the rehabilitation of encroached areas and regeneration of moribund cocoa trees in government owned cocoa estates.

“We have also expanded the “Small Holder’s Scheme’’ with more private sector participation in cocoa farming, which has led to the opening of  mass cocoa farmlands across the state,’’ he said.

He added that an ultra modern cocoa processing factory had been established in the state to further boost revenue from the sector.