Akwa Ibom State Government has shown interest in the N200 million doled out by the Federal Government for the Cassava FADAMA-111 Additional Financing Intervention Project, saying it will help the state’s efforts to boost agriculture and create jobs for the teeming unemployed in the state.

Governor Udom Emmanuel gave the indication while flagging off the planting of 40 hectares Cassava FADAMA-111 Additional Financing Intervention Project in Awa-Iman, Onna Local Government Area of the state.

The FADAMA-111 Additional Financing Project which is a programme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, it was gathered, has Akwa-Ibom as one of the six core states to benefit from the N200 million doled our by the Federal Government to support full value chain in cassava, tomato, rice and sorghum planting.

Emmanuel explained that his administration decided to give priority to agriculture not only to diversify the economy from petroleum but to empower the people of the state on a more sustainable basis than was the case before.

“We have depended on oil over the years and at the end of the day, I keep asking, if the empowerment programmes for how many years now had really worked, then, why is it that after about 30 days, people are broke and faced with a situation where the empowerment money had disappeared?

“This is because we had not developed our value chain properly. So, today, I am trying to see how I can develop a full core value chain for the state in agriculture, education and everything.

“As I talk, even in education, I have just given orders to the SA on Technical Education that in the next 12 months, we should be able to produce pencils that are used in our schools so that we are able to create jobs and wealth for our people.

“Besides, there is no country in the world today that says it is a developed nation that did not conquer food first. If you don’t conquer food, you are not ready for development. So, the first point of development is to till the soil,” the governor said.

Speaking on the occasion, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Peter Ajibade, said that the Federal Government had approved N200 million to support full value chain in cassava, rice, tomato and sorghum to encourage states with the potentials to meet the expected value chains to help realise the objective of providing food for the nation.