By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
No fewer than 300,000 additional coconut seedlings were planted in Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday to boost the supply of raw materials for the state owned Coconut Oil Factory located at Mkpat Enin.
The State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel while flagging-off the planting exercise at Mkpu, Itu Mbonuso in Ini, said that the planting of additional 300,000 coconut seedlings was done across the 31 local government areas of the state simultaneously.
At the event which marked the State’s 2022 Coconut Day Celebration, the Governor described the coconut planting exercise as the hallmark of activities held to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the state.
He expressed optimism that the state will become an economic hub with the availability of raw materials to boost production at St Gabriel’s Coconut Oil Factory in the state.
“In all the activities to mark the 35th State Anniversary, this is one of the most remarkable, today we want to commission the first phase in this Local Government.
“Based on the survey that we have done, Ini will give us a very high yield with hybrid coconut.
“As announced all over the 31 Local Government Areas we are planting 300 thousand coconut seedlings same time between now and 2pm”.
“Our target before I handover the baton to the incoming governor is to plant two million coconut seedlings and before December we will meet that target”, he assured.
Governor Emmanuel called on the community to protect the project, explaining that the coconut plantation will generate income to the state as virgin coconut oil sells higher than crude oil at the international market.
Earlier in her remarks, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Dr. (Mrs.) Offiong Offor thanked Governor Emmanuel for facilitating the project which she noted has been a task in increasing raw materials for the coconut oil factory.
Dr. Offor said as the state marks coconut day with the planting of seedlings, many job opportunities will be created for the youths and income will be generated through the production of the coconut oil.
In a goodwill message, former Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Dr. Glory Edet lauded the innovations in agricultural sector by Governor Udom Emmanuel, adding that the vision to plant coconut will encourage the availability of raw materials to further boost the Coconut Factory production.
Member representing Ini State Constituency in the House of Assembly, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, appreciated the state government for demonstrating commitment towards food sufficiency.
He pointed out that the Governor has not only given the people of Ini fish, but also taught them the art of fishing.
Paramount Ruler of the area, HRM Edidem Etim Umoette, commended Governor Emmanuel for the various developmental projects put in place across the state.
The royal father noted that the huge investments in agriculture remains a panacea for food sufficiency.
Highpoint of the event was the planting of coconut seedlings by government functionaries to mark the day.