Ekori — THE people of Ekori in Yakurr Local Government Area, Cross River State, have been called upon to embrace bamboo planting as part of efforts to sustain the Toothpick industry inaugurated by the state government as well as eradicate poverty.
The state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, made the call at the weekend when he launched an ultramodern Toothpick factory at Ekori, built to produce 31 million toothpicks a day.
Why we established toothpick factory --Ayade
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Ayade said: "The country does not just change by mere promulgation of policy. The country changes by systematic, active and very visionary step-by-step approach towards the realisation of set objectives and one of the set objectives is to move Cross River State from third world to first world under my eight years in office.
"The Ministry of Agriculture in 2016 decried an average of 18 million dollars spent annually importing toothpicks into Nigeria; hence the Federal Government put toothpicks importation under the dollar access prohibition list. Which means it cannot give you dollars if you intend to import toothpick, so we decided to take advantage of the policy to set up this factory," he said.
The governor disclosed that only Cross River has such a factory as a state-owned project with 100 per cent management by indigenes of the state, while creating jobs for the teeming unemployed men and women.
Urging indigenes to embrace bamboo planting, he said: "It has a short gestation period that is why it belongs to the grass family and it grows very fast. If you cultivate enough bamboo trees; we can produce 31 million toothpicks in a day and that is lot of business and a lot of money with massive turnover."
First industry in Yarkurr --Monarch
Speaking in his palace, the Obol of Ekori, Obol Donatus Ibor Ofem, lauded Governor Ayade for the gesture, while enjoining his people to embrace bamboo planting as a way to get out of poverty and a means to sustain the first industry of its kind in the community and local government area.
He said: "Your industrialisation drive spread across the state and it is a record no governor had ever beaten over the years. Since 1611 when Ekori came into existence, no governor has ever visited this palace except Ayade.
"Ayade's feats in siting a factory in the area as well as the offer of appointments to our sons and daughters have tremendously helped to put food on our tables, while reducing the rate of crime.
"This is the first industry in Yarkurr. We are happy with Ayade, we have had governors but this one is too much. We have a lot of bamboo that we do not know what to do with, but because of this industry, there is now a high demand," the monarch said.
According to the king: "We have much bamboo, we used to burn them, but now, we will bring them here to sell, the economy will improve, youth's restiveness will be put in check and more of our children will be employed."
NDV learnt that the factory, one of the many factories conceived by the Ayade administration, produces the finest, strongest, organic and beautiful toothpicks, which have brought significant economic value, creating wealth and introducing socioeconomic development in the area.
Excited indigene speaks
One of the indigenes of the area, Mr. Okar Ofem said that they were excited at the establishment of the industry because a lot of bamboo used to waste without them knowing what to do with it but all that was now in the past.
"Already, I have started benefiting, in fact, we have even formed a cooperative society to be able to have bamboo plantations in Ekori because we want this industry to stand the test of time and create more jobs for our teeming youths because the market is huge in Nigeria," he said.