Calabar - The Cross River Government is to deploy N1billion to the World Bank-Assisted Commercial Agricultural Development Project (CADP) in the state.
Mr Owali Ilem, the Chairman of Commercial Agriculture Development Association (CADA) in the state, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.
According to him, the state is expected to pay N840 million in counterpart funding for the programme in five years.
He said an additional N160 million would be used by the government in asphalting the rural roads involved in the CADP scheme.
"The state’s annual counterpart contribution to the project is N168 million, making a total contribution of N840 million for the five-year duration of the project but the programme entails only construction of earth roads.
"So, the state government has decided to take the extra trouble of asphalting the rural roads where these projects are being implemented.
"We are insisting on and undertaking the asphalting of the roads under the scheme to make them last longer; that is why we are going to make the extra contribution to the programme.’’
He said the state government had paid its counterpart contribution for 2009 and 2010 for the project, adding that the CADP was currently working with more than 300 groups in the state.
On delay in getting approval for more groups, he said there had to be assurance that the farmers were genuine as well as ensuring that proper procedures were followed in applications.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to invest in agriculture, adding that the country should encourage mechanised farming.
He called for adequate budgetary provision by the Federal Government for the sector.
"It is not very interesting to learn that the Federal Government budgeted only 1.9 per cent for agriculture in 2013. If that is true, it is very disappointing.’’
According to him, experts around the world have agreed that all developing countries should devote 10-15 per cent of their budgets to the development of agriculture.
Ilem said that Nigeria had no business importing head of Stock Fish, stating that that part of the fish had little or no nutritional value.
"This should stop because we can produce enough fish in Nigeria for our consumption and even for export."