Calabar– The inaugural International Cooperation and Investment Summit, themed “Paradigm Shift,” concluded today in Calabar, Cross River State. Governor Bassey Edet Otu, in his keynote address, highlighted the summit’s significance as the first of its kind in the state. He emphasized its alignment with his administration’s “People First” agenda, emphasizing private-sector-led economic development, infrastructure provision, public sector reforms, and poverty reduction.
Governor Otu’s vision for Cross River is to transition from a public sector-dominated state to one driven by the private sector. The summit aimed to explore ways to increase investment in key sectors, fostering development cooperation and facilitating wealth and job creation.
The event featured a panel of partners from various organizations, including the African Development Bank, ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Cooperation, FHi360, IITA, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, UNIDO, NIRSAL PLC, Arise IIP, and the World Health Organization, among others.
In a breakout session, Hon. Johnson Ebokpo, the Commissioner for Crops and Irrigation Development, discussed the critical role of ICT in agribusiness and highlighted the vast investment opportunities in agriculture. He stressed that Cross River’s fertile land and numerous crops, including cassava, maize, cocoa, rice, rubber, oil palm, sesame, and coconut, present significant agribusiness potential.
His words “all we need is the right approach and systematic applications in a bid to eliminate waste and subsidize productivity… The project is digital in nature where funds stands as collateral to suppliers of specified crops to the state government through ministry of crops and irrigations development. Once the supplies are made, funds are credited directly to the farmers.”
The Commissioner shared Governor Otu’s plan to launch “PROJECT GROW,” a digital commercial agric credit guarantee fund. This project will streamline access to funds for farmers by acting as collateral for specified crop suppliers to the state government. Once supplies are made, funds will be directly credited to the farmers. The initiative also includes plans to provide internet access to rural areas, facilitating transactions and leveling the playing field for all farmers.
Commissioner Ebokpo expressed confidence in the success of the program, stating that it would be launched soon. This forward-thinking approach aims to boost the agricultural sector in Cross River, create opportunities for wealth creation, and contribute to overall economic development.