Eme Offiong, Calabar
The Cross River state government has pledged to use cultural tourism as a catalyst for developing the agriculture sector.
As a result, ‘Using culture and tourism for agricultural growth’ is the focus of the NorthFest festival, an initiative of the state government to celebrate unified new yam festival in its northern senatorial district.
Chairman of the central planning committee on the 2019 Northern Cross River Cultural Festival also known as NorthFest, Kenneth Aklah, said that the event, which will commence on Sunday November 24 would climax on November 30 in Ogoja local government area, the capital of the district.
Aklah said there were different cultural activities lined up to make the festival unique and interesting.
The activities include: wrestling contest, traditional dances unique to each council areas, display of masquerades, palm wine tapping, exhibition of other crops such as cocoa, cassava, plantain, rice and vegetables.
According to him, the government was also instituting a new award that would test the ingenuity of the youths in the area of agricultural machine fabrication.
“The governor has instituted a mouth-watering prize for the Best Agric Innovation Machine. This initiative is s deliberate attempt to bring out the ingenuity, the potentials of young people in machine fabrication that would reduce the man-hour in the value chain,’’ hinted Aklah.
He further stated, ‘all we are trying to do is not only to diversify our economy through agriculture, but to get our teeming unemployed especially the youths interested in farming.
“We award prizes for the best harvesters, best palm wine tapper and king and queen. That is why we are using cultural tourism to promote agriculture in this state.”,
Aklah, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Events Management, told newsmen in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, southern Nigeria, that every community in the northern district celebrates new yam festival between the months of August and November each year.
The government thought it wise to collectively celebrate the festival alongside other crops in the area.
The Committee chairman noted that the festival, which was in its third edition, has the theme Humanity: uniting the people, increasing production noting “this presupposes that humanity is the centre piece of all our endeavours be it in tourism, agriculture, industrialization and otherwise.
He said NorthFest was now a permanent feature of the state tourism calendar like the Leboku New Yam Festival for the central region and Utomo Obong, which would be celebrated in December by the southern district.
The northern cross river festival was instituted by Governor Ben Ayade and involves the participation of Ogoja, Bekwara, Yala, Obudu and Obanliku local government areas only.