Cross River plans to expand cocoa farms

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Cross River State has unfolded plans to expand land under cocoa cultivation by a third in the current season and revamp old farms in a bid to double output.

“We intend to bring about 4,000 hectares of previously unplanted areas into cocoa cultivation,” the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Egrinya Eneji, said at the weekend in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg, in Calabar.

He said that the state intends to introduce “the most modern cocoa hybrids capable of yields of two metric tons per hectare.”Government-owned estates account for about 4,000 hectares (9,884 acres) of existing cocoa farms in Cross River State, while small-holder farmers cultivate another 4,000 hectares around the cocoa-trading town of Ikom, according to Eneji.

Farmers will receive five million cocoa seedlings to cultivate new farms and revamp old ones at the start of the planting season in March, he said.

Currently, Cross River State accounts for about 30 per cent of the country’s cocoa production, with the South Western region producing about 60 per cent.

Nigeria, the world’s number four cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia, estimated its 2013-14 season output to be 350,000 tonnes.

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