Governor Udom Emmanuel has indicated interest to boost his industrialization and food sufficiency drive with the establishment of a puree factory for processing tomatoes and other vegetables into paste in Akwa Ibom State.
Governor Emmanuel gave the indication, Saturday when he visited the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES) pilot farm for tomatoes and other vegetables production located at the Ifiayong/Mbiakong community, Uruan Local Government Area.
Expressing satisfaction with the quality of produce at the demonstration farm, Governor Emmanuel said he was encouraged to do more in support of agriculture and urged youths in the state to take interest in commercial farming.
Stressing that agriculture is the largest employer of labour, he urged more business and purposeful interest in the sector to guarantee a sustainable source of income and create employment opportunities.
He restated his administration’s commitment to incentives that would boost food production, and assured that a processing factory that would off-take the farm produce was in the offing.
“It’s amazing what I’m seeing here and I’m impressed. I can see a whole lot of youths being employed here and when they harvest, these can give them a whole lot of money and that will be a source of capital for all other endeavours that they may wish to embark on.
“For AKEES to have developed this, I am encouraged and want to do more. I had promised them that once they can do this in tomato and in pepper that we are going to give them a processing factory to process it to puree”.
Mr. Emmanuel said state government will not take revenue generated from the farm from AKEES, to allow them plough back the proceeds of the farm and continue to grow it until it attains the targeted quantum of harvest.
Speaking to newsmen at the end of the farm tour, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters and Due Process, Elder Ufot Ebong, described Governor Emmanuel as visionary leader and explained that the 7-hectare tomatoes farm was a pilot project towards the implementation of the governor’s initiative of 100 hectare cultivation for tomatoes production, as part of his administration’s food sufficiency drive.
“In line with a promise the governor made to Akwa Ibom people to cultivate a hundred hectares for tomatoes production, as part of his food sufficiency programme, AKEES was directed to do a pilot project to see how that could work. AKEES took it up from July and now the governor has visited and is impressed.”
With studies undertaken and successes recorded in the pilot farm project, Elder Ebong said Akwa Ibom has capacity to grow twenty-two popular vegetables, including tomatoes, pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots and the likes.
He urged the people of the state to dismiss hitherto held apprehensions about growing such crops in large quantity, while giving assurance on the capacity of AKEES to cultivate the targeted 100 hectares to make the state self-sufficient in tomatoes.
The AKEES pilot farm, is an addition to the existing green house farms across the state, notably the gate area of the Victor Attah International Airport.