The Akwa Ibom State government says it has planted 300,000 coconut seedlings in all its 31 local government areas to provide raw materials for its recently inaugurated coconut refinery.
The planting exercise which was flagged off in Mkpu, Itu Mbonuso in Ini LGA by Governor Udom Emmanuel, is in addition to the already existing coconut plantations in three local government areas.
Emmanuel said on Wednesday that Akwa Ibom State would become an economic hub with the availability of raw materials to boost production at the St. Gabriel’s Coconut Oil Refinery.
The governor described the exercise as the hallmark of activities held to mark the 35th anniversary of the state.
He said: “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 300,000 coconut seedlings same time between now and 2 pm.
“Our target before I hand over the baton to the incoming governor is to plant two million coconut seedlings and before December, we will meet that target.”
While urging the community to protect the project, the governor explained that the coconut plantation will generate income for the state as virgin coconut oil sells higher than crude oil on the international market.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Offiong Offor commended Governor Emmanuel for facilitating the project, saying it will increase raw materials for the coconut oil factory.
Offor said the planting of seedlings will create many job opportunities for the youths and income will be generated through the production of coconut oil.
On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Ini local government area, HRM Edidem Etim Umoette, commended Governor Emmanuel for his various developmental projects across the state, saying the huge investment in agriculture remains a panacea for food sufficiency.