The Cross River Government on Wednesday announced its plans to build a N500 million ethanol production plant in the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Anthony Eneji, made the disclosure at the ongoing collaborative meeting with the Partnership Initiative for the Niger Delta (PIND) Foundation in Calabar.
PIND, a non-governmental group is in Cross River to explore ways of partnering in the development of aquaculture, cassava and palm oil production.
Eneji said the state was ready to collaborate with the private sector to develop the agriculture sector in Cross River.
“We have the potential to become the largest economy in Nigeria through agriculture and we are committed to taking advantage of the current dwindling crude oil price to develop our agriculture potential.
“We welcome any willing partner as we cannot do it alone.’’
Eneji said the ministry was working towards increasing its output in cassava production through the Fadama 111 additional project.
“We are arguably the largest producer of cassava in the country. We have concluded plans to build an ethanol production plant worth over N500 million.
“This is aimed at utilising the extracts from cassava for other uses. We are serious about diversification of our economy,’’ he said.
Eneji disclosed further that a Swiss palm oil company, Welmar, had begun large-scale oil palm production in some Local Government Areas of the state with more than 50,000 hectares of palm plantation.
He noted, however, that most of the state’s aquaculture sites were in bad shape and needed refurbishment.
Eneji said the ministry had taken measures to address the situation and that fish farmers were being given fingerlings to support them.
“We have also given soft loans to some cooperative groups, to facilitate their fish farming businesses in the state,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the Programme Director of PIND, Mr Dara Akala, said said the group was established in 2010 by Chevron for the development of Niger Delta.
Akala said the foundation was in Cross River to explore collaboration in three agricultural areas with a view to assisting the state in wealth creation and reduction of unemployment.
According to him, this will reduce tension among youths and ensure peace and stability.
Also speaking, Dr Fidelis Ntamu, the state’s Economic Adviser, described the meeting as useful in the pursuit of economic emancipation of the state.
He said that the state would benefit immensely in its collaboration with PIND foundation.