- ‘New Banana Breed ’ll Boost C’River Revenue’
Following the allocation of large expanse of land for the development of a new breed of banana, the Special Assistant to the Cross River State Governor on Logistics, Mr. Maurice Okon, has said the outcome of the agreement with a Mexican firm will boost the state revenue profile.
The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, recently signed a Public Private Partnership agreement with San Carlos Company of Mexico for the commercial production of banana for export purpose.
The deal, which was valued at $27m, will require the cross-breeding of the banana in Cross River and South America, which is expected to come out with a better yield for consumption.
Okon, in an interview on Thursday, said that already the first stage of clearing the huge expanse of land in Odukpani Local Government Area of the state was at the verge of being completed.
He said that the development, to be expanded to Boki Local Government Area in due course, would be a big boost to the state’s revenue.
Okon said, “Our banana is sweeter than the ones in the European markets, but the problem is that the skin is fragile. So, what we are doing now is to cross-breed with the South American banana to get tougher skin that can withstand export. It is going to be a huge market for the state in Europe and America.
“Contract for the development of the plantation has been awarded and it is ongoing in the Odukpani area. The Mexican firm is the investor while our equity is the land. It is the first phase of the project while the second phase will soon be awarded and it will commence at Boki.
“The idea behind this is to create agro-allied industries in the value chains in which case we will have some export while others are for local consumption. This banana production has the potential to attract foreign investors to the state.”
Okon also said the governor had given approval to a Chinese firm to carry out a geological mapping of the state with a view to identifying the various natural resources available for exploration.
“The governor has contracted a team of Chinese firms that will carry out a geological mapping of the state. At the moment, there is a preliminary survey ongoing but before you start exploring your resources, you must locate them and determine the quantity available.
“We have data of available natural resources but it is already outdated. So, this survey is meant to reaffirm the availability of the different resources and what step to take next. The recent mapping approval for mineral deposits will help address a lot of problems.”