The Chairman of Natural Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, NARPMAN, in Cross River State, Mr Umo Inameti, has disclosed that natural rubber can generate as much as N200 billion every year for the state if given the desired attention.
Inameti stressed the importance of rubber and the need for state and federal governments to give it deserved attention to bolster the economy and reduce unemployment.
Addressing the Commissioner for Crops and Irrigation Development, Johnson Ebokpo, in his office in Calabar, he said: “If we are able to do 50,000 hectares in the next few years, we will drastically reduce rural-urban migration and we will be making about N200 billion direct income to our primary industries annually, not to talk of the by-products.”
According to him, since the oil boom, the state does not give prime attention anymore to rubber which used to be its mainstay years ago.
“Cross River depended heavily on rubber but presently, the state does not have up to 10,000 hectares of prime producing rubber due to the impact of the oil boom”, Inameti said.
He remembered that there were many processing factories in the state but currently, only Royal Farms, which started in 2018, is functional.
He appealed that rubber should be added to the state’s 2024 budget, praying further that government should come out with a policy document to develop the commodity by making available, at least 100,000 hectares of land for rubber cultivation.
Also speaking on the importance of rubber, National Vice President South-South of NARPMAN, Mr Usen Umoh, called for development of rubber in the state.
He reminded the commissioner of the promise of the state government to establish 50,000 hectares each for rubber, cocoa and oil palm, adding that if that was done, Cross River would be on its way to economic growth.
Mr Fidelis Obi, Managing Director Pamol Nigeria Limited, added that the rubber estates established by colonialists had all been destroyed.
In his remarks, the commissioner, Ebokpo, said the state government has a strong desire to boost the local processing of natural rubber.
He disclosed that Governor Bassey Otu had directed that agricultural commodities such as oil palm, cocoa, rice, cassava and natural rubber be effectively developed and processed in the state.
He added, “It is my desire that processing takes place here, so, one of the things I intend to do is to visit Royal Farms in Biakpan community where rubber is being processed for export and officially inaugurate it.
“We will meet all the players in the rubber value chain, so that we will have a policy document that gives clarity to the entire value chain.
“This administration is very serious with agriculture because we don’t have a choice; it is the evacuation of some of our produce that will make our seaport work and boost our economy.”