Akpan Etukudoh Asare
The non-inclusion of rubber among the cash crops such as cocoa, cashew, Shea butter, palm oil ad rice which are to enjoy ten years moratorium from 9% interest from bank loans has become a source of concern to operators of the rubber sector.
Managing Director of Imoniyame Holdings Limited, Mrs. Ufuoma Obrutse, who is thought to be the leading player in the rubber sector voiced the concern of other players.
Reacting to the development when she fielded questions from journalists, Obrutse expressed dismay over the new policy, insisting that the marginalisation was very unfair to a sector which generates huge employment and attract huge foreign exchange.
“It is important for the federal government to have a rethink over excluding rubber, which engages greater number of Nigerians directly and indirectly, from the list.
“It is also not arguable that the rubber sector generates more foreign exchange than.
“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”, she said
Another speaker, Mr. Hebrew Martins Akpan who spoke for the 207 rubber farmers in Cross River State also called on government to give life to the moribund Presidential Committee on Rubber.
He explained that there are nine states in the southern part of the country, considered as the rubber belt region, which has high concentration of rubber plantation, maintaining that this sector can therefore not be overlooked and marginalised.
“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”, Akpan said.