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Gov. invests in biofuel and oil palm economy

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By Mercy Kelani

Cross River sets to produce renewable energy through cassava biofuel factory.

Senator Bassey Otu, the Governor of Cross River State, revealed the decision of his administration in investing in biofuel production, which would serve as another source of energy to promote sustainable economic development. Biofuel is referred to as any fuel that has its source in biomass, which includes plant, animal waste or algae material, and can be replenished easily. Unlike fossil fuels which includes petroleum, natural gas, and coal, biofuel is regarded as a renewable energy source.

This kind of fuel is considered to be cost-effective as it is environmentally suitable, in contrast to petroleum and other fossil fuels. It is particularly best to use during the increase in petroleum prices and concerns about fossil fuels being contributors to global warming. Governor Otu, during his presentation of his achievements on one hundred days in office, stated that the state government, under his administration, has decided to build a factory that would produce biofuel from cassava.

100 hectares to cultivate cassava has been earmarked.

He said this will improve Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), while providing an alternative source of energy for Nigerians, due to the inflating price on petroleum products. He added that some of the state’s indigenes have been sponsored by the government for participation in a cassava value chain conference in Asaba, the capital of Delta State, for the upcoming establishment of cassava biofuel factory in Cross River State. 100 hectares to cultivate cassava has also been earmarked, in preparation for the factory.

According to the Governor, renewable energy is the best alternative there is, and Cross River State is ready to take advantage of it by investing in it. He said that his office is determined to ease the lives of citizens, and ensure protection of the environment, while enhancing the state’s internal revenue. He also disclosed that they were directing more attention to the oil palm economy, because agriculture has granted the state comparative advantage over many states.

Gov’t prioritizes oil palm, collaborating with OPGAN.

To make this happen, the current administration has gotten a Fifteen Million US Dollar ($15 million) private sector investment for the Ayip Eku Oil Palm Estate. This will enable creation of employment opportunities and boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state. The state, in collaboration with the Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria (OPGAN) has also began the planting of 3.5 million hybrid oil palm seedlings in 13 specific locations in the state.

Furthermore, it is the aim of the state government to distribute these seedlings to farmers to contribute to the enhancement of the expansion of existing plantations, so as to enable them to take advantage of the developments ongoing in the agricultural sector. The Governor also revealed that the current administration, within the first one hundred days in office, has developed a six-year N30 billion agricultural credit guarantee fund for rice, fisheries, maize, and livestock farmers.

People First Agenda of the current administration is in effect.

Also, Senator Bassey Otu stated that to have a precise knowledge of the soil texture for specific kinds of crops in different areas of the state, the government had began a Digital Soil Fertility Mapping to aid greater yields. The Senator further said that for now, 50 starter rice growers have been given free rice seedlings, pesticides and fertilizers. 30 starter livestock farmers have been supported with days old chicks, feed, and other necessities that align with the People First Agenda of the Governor of Cross River State.

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