By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
In a bid to boost its Cocoa value chain, the Cross River State Government has solicited the support of Singaporean digital marketing platform, Arcadier to boost local production of the crop.
This is even as the state has become number one in Cocoa production in Nigeria with high quality beans according to Mrs. Adaeze Udoh-Ekwueme, President of Cocoa One, an Arcadier initiative.
And the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu who listened to a presentation of the firm at Government House Calabar, maintained that the state was focused on boosting its Cocoa production first and solicited their support in what he termed “the baking of the Cocoa cake.”
“We will really appreciate your support and help to us as a state in baking the Cocoa cake at this point in time. When the cake is baked, that is the point we will really support your input of helping for marketing and so on.
“At this point, I think Arcadier could pioneer through some variations of its focus by seeing or exploring ways and means by supporting us in this area of baking the cake, the Cocoa cake.
“We will appreciate all the things you want to do to enhance trust, to enhance quality of products, to enhance marketing opportunities, to enhance global branding,” Esu said, adding that: “We must first and foremost, produce the crops.”
On the state’s focus, he averred that the state wants to focus on organically cultivated Cocoa. He said that: “We want to do more in terms of investing, in terms of rural land acquisition and in terms of survey and diversification to ensure that we acquire the best of the best and reserve for Cocoa and other crops.”
He maintained that the development of the deep seaport and the superhighway is vital to the state’s Cocoa plan as finished products from the processing plant in Ikom can also be exported alongside the Cocoa beans.
Earlier, Adaeze who said the choice of Cross River state was due to its historical background and quality Cocoa bean pointed out that; “This is where the best food of the country and most recently you have become the cocoa capital of Nigeria.”
According to her, the initiatives of the state government has made the state very attractive which was why the Cocoa one initiative was been introduced.
She maintained that Africa produces 70 percent of the world’s Cocoa and called on the government to key in to the initiative.
In his presentation,, Mr. Kenneth Low, a Cocoa One staff said that Cross River was an attractive place following the state’s objective to produce 500,000 metric tons of Cocoa from the current 60,000 which represents 30 percent of Nigeria’s capacity.
He identified lack of processing plants, burning of farms and shallow draft of the Calabar port as challenges facing the cocoa industry in the state.
But, this according to him can be tackled through: “enhancing trust and quality with price transparency through education and certify farmers, enhance export opportunities through e-payments systems as well as enhancing a global brand through the sale of quality beans and product.”
The firm had proposed two models: The first being a fair trade marketplace of accredited farmers to sell their produce to Cross River State and other buyers protected by escrow payment and the second being an online processed goods marketplace for producers to sell Cross River State branded cocoa goods to local and international sellers.
Arcadier is an emerging MaaS (Marketplace-as-a-Service) enterprise that uses the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) technology to provide for marketplaces; a slight improvement on the online superstores already known.
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