Calabar — Hundreds of rubber farmers in Cross River State have lamented what they described as their non-inclusion by the federal government in the list of the category of farmers to benefit from the Bankers' Committee single-digit interest and moratorium.
Speaking on behalf of rubber estate owners in the state, numbering about 207 farmers, their representative, Mr Hebrew Martins Akpan, said the obvious neglect of the farmers had denied at least 100, 000 people employment in the nation's rubber industry.
Akpan, who stated this recently in Calabar, during a meeting between the farmers, and a representative of Imoniyame Holdings Limited, in Delta State, Mrs. Ufuoma Obrutse, urged the federal government to take another look at the policy, and ensure the inclusion of the farmers as part of those to benefit from the loans scheme.
Akpan also urged the federal government to revive the moribund Presidential Committee on Rubber, saying it would contribute in making Nigeria one of the leading producers of rubber in the country.
The spokesman of the rubber farmers said nine states in the southern part of Nigeria, considered as the rubber belt region, can produce the commodity for the entire needs of the rubber industry in Nigeria.
"Rubber is a longstanding economic crop which should be accommodated in any incentive consideration. We can generate employment for nearly 100,000 directly and indirectly in the Niger Delta region which can certainly go a long to calm restive youths as well as earn huge foreign exchange... .
"Federal government should extend the intervention fund to rubber if they do not want it to go extinct. We are already facing huge challenges, and to exclude us may mean that the intention is to further dampen us whereas we are a more reliable economic bolster.
"Rubber has more challenges yet with greater benefits even though it has about seven years gestation period. Yet, too, it has generational value. So we need more assistance. We therefore call on the federal government to urgently review its statement so that we in the rubber sector can enjoy same incentive," he added.
Obrutse, who is the Managing Director of Imoniyame Holdings Limited, a leading player in the nation's rubber industry said the marginalisation of rubber farmers was unfair.
He said the rubber industry can generate huge employment and attract huge foreign exchange, if the federal government support the farmers adequately.