The Cross River State Government has concluded arrangement for recovery of N700m debt owed the state government by cocoa whom the state government leased its cocoa farms to.
Based on the development, government decided to constitute a task force for recovery of the debt which the farm contractors owed.
Acting Chairman Cocoa Board in the state, Dr. Oscar Ofuka disclosed this in Calabar, while interacting with journalists shortly after he concluded inspection tour to the demonstration farm located at the Cross Broadcasting premises Calabar, stressing that the improved variety planted at the demonstration farm stood at 18 months.
Ofuka stated that state government is angry with contractors who had failed to defray debt owed the state government for the farms leased to them by government since 4years ago.
“Why will people work in a farm and walk away with the proceeds without paying the contract sum?
“This is bad, especially now that state government is looking for money to regenerate, rehabilitate the farms which have become moribund”.
“The farmers who have been working in the farms have not paid for four years.
“State Government is no longer going to take it lightly with those defaulting to pay. Those in charge of the farms have cheated government in the last 4years” Ofuka added.
“The acting chairman maintained that cocoa estate farms were no longer going to be treated like a political largesse”.
Ofuka who is an immediate past Special Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State urged the small holders farmers and all the “political contractors owing the government in the last four years to vacate the farms or risk prosecution.
He said government has constituted a task force to assist the board recover debt owed the state government so as to enable the state government pay royalty to land lord communities.
He said that it was on the basis of trying to make recovery that government decided revoke that the contract agreement with all small holders’ schemes and political contractors who had defaulted.
Ofuka stated that the board under his watch shall not tolerate any owing of debt as government was serious with the business of making recovery.
He said that monies realized will be used for farm regeneration and rehabilitation so as to create employment opportunity for army of unemployed youths.
“Cocoa is a new gold mine, our brand is organic, with a better flavor. Its the reason why the state government acquired 38,000 hectares of land in Akim Osobam community,Akamkpa LGA of tge state to cultivate the crop”.
“I can bet my two eyes that we will have enough beans to feed our industry.” We ceding of 76 oil wells, cocoa is now our new oil”.
The Acting Chairman averred that state government has commenced a process of crushing 120 metro tones annually to feed the ultra modern cocoa factory undergoing construction in Ikom LGA of the state.
He said that one of the policy thrust of state government is to surpass the quantity produced by cote’ivore and Ghana in years to come
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