Arrangements are in top gear for the commissioning of a $5-million rubber processing plant by Royal Farms and Estate Limited in Biakpan – Biase Local Government Area in Cross River State.
Usen Umoh, general manager of the organisation made this known recently in the state capital while speaking with a BusinessDay reporter.
Umoh said that the minister of state for industry, trade and investment, Aisha Abubakar, who has been instrumental to the success of the commissioning, has also expressed happiness at the establishment of a rubber processing plant in the state.
“Two delegations on different occasions from the Federal Ministry of trade came to inspect both the ground breaking as well as the actual installation of the heavy machines at the rubber factory,” he said.
“The minister at each of those visits described the investment by the farm as a very bold attempt at impacting the national economy through massive employment of Nigerians and generation of foreign exchange to the country.”
Umoh praised the minister for her concern and encouragement extended to them and disclosed that their rubber plantation sits on a 2,187 hectares of land, and that the company has begun replanting another 1,000 hectares of young rubber trees.
According to him, Royal Farms has already provided employment for 500 Nigerians with potentials to engage more 600 directly and indirectly.
Umoh however appealed to the federal government to include rubber among the five cash crops which are to benefit from the 9 percent incentive from the government, adding that rubber plantations have more challenges but greater benefits to the economy.
“Rubber is a longstanding economic crop which should be accommodated in any incentive consideration. We can generate employment for nearly 100,000 directly and indirectly in the Niger Delta region which can certainly go a long to calm restive youths as well as earn huge foreign exchange,” he said.
“Rubber has more challenges yet with greater benefits even though it has about a seven-year gestation period. Yet it has generational value. So we need more assistance and intervention from government,” he added.
He said there are 207 rubber farmers in Cross River state, and called for the resuscitation of the Presidential Committee on Rubber.
MIKE ABANG, Calabar