The Chairman of Natural Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NARPMAN) in Cross River State, Mr Umo Inameti, has said that natural rubber can generate as much as N200 billion every year for the state if it is given the necessary attention.
Inameti stressed the importance of rubber and the need for the state and federal governments to support it in order to boost the economy and reduce unemployment.
He said that if the state can cultivate 50,000 hectares of rubber in the next few years, it will drastically reduce rural-urban migration and generate about N200 billion in direct income to the state’s primary industries annually, not to mention the income from by-products.
Inameti said that since the oil boom, the state has not given the same attention to rubber, which used to be its mainstay years ago. He said that the state currently has less than 10,000 hectares of prime producing rubber due to the impact of the oil boom.
He also said that there used to be many rubber processing factories in the state, but currently, only Royal Farms, which started in 2018, is functional.
Inameti appealed to the government to add rubber to the state’s 2024 budget and to come up with a policy document to develop the commodity by making available at least 100,000 hectares of land for rubber cultivation.
The National Vice President South-South of NARPMAN, Mr Usen Umoh, also spoke on the importance of rubber and called for its development 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 the 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.
Ebokpo said that he intends to visit Royal Farms in Biakpan community where rubber is being processed for export and officially inaugurate it. He also said that he will meet with all the players in the rubber value chain to develop a policy document that gives clarity to the entire value chain.
Ebokpo said that the state administration is very serious about agriculture because it does not have a choice. He said that it is the evacuation of some of the produce that will make the state’s seaport work and boost the economy.