by crossriverwatch admin
The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATN) has established an oil palm processing cottage industry valued at N10 million in Itighidi, Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
This is as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and in fulfilment of a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Government, signed in September 2001, to focus on local initiatives and projects with the prime focus on poverty reduction, alleviation and empowering rural communities in Nigeria.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony/handing over of the oil palm processing facility to the Itighidi Farmers Multipurpose Co-operative Society, Freddy Messanyi, director, BATN Foundation, said the establishment of the facility in the community was meant to address the problem of drudgery in agricultural produce processing.
According to the director, the company contributes to the poverty reduction in Nigeria by supporting smallholder farmers to adopt more proactive ways of managing and earning livelihood from natural resources in a sustained manner.
Messanyi said the foundation had conceptualised and implemented 116 community development projects in 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, and with a national spread over the six geo-political zones of the country.
Represented by Sorimidayo George, he said it would also reduce the level of poverty and restiveness as well as stem the tide of urban drift and endemic poverty, saying “it will enable the harvested palm fruits to be processed with ease, which will engender higher productivity which will culminate in higher product quality, income and better livelihood for members of the co-operative society and the entire community.”
While harping on the need to maintain hygiene at the donated facility, he said the foundation had also provided a functional water bore-hole with a 5,000-litre water storage tank to supply adequate water for processing activities and also a generating set to militate against power failure, and then commended Cross River Fadama 111 project for its support in driving the process.
In his remarks, James Aniyom, the state commissioner for agriculture, commended the foundation for the imitative, saying it would help complement the efforts of the state government in the agric sector through the provision of employment for the community.
Aniyom, who was represented by the director of administration in the ministry, Francis Adie, said” the Cross River State government believes strongly in processing and value addition, which will help boost the capacity of our farmers and provide jobs.”
He also disclosed that the Federal Government had previously approved the construction of oil palm, cocoa and rice processing mills in the state, commending the efforts of the Cross River Fadama and other groups that provided the necessary liaison services that led to the completion of the project.
On his part, Ikpete Stephen Etta, chairman, Itighidi Farmers’ Co-operative Society, commended the BATN Foundation for deeming it fit to boost the production capacity of oil palm farmers in the state.
He said: “The oil palm processing cottage industry is of greater importance to the co-operative society and the people of the community, because before now our people were used to manual processing, which made many of them to stop the oil palm business. But with this, we now know that many people will be employed.”
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