By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that the NGN7 billion Cocoa processing plant in Ikom will be delivered in early 2018.
Mr. Ayade stated this in Atimaka in Ikom, Friday while inspecting the plant as part of his itinerary for a two day tour of projects embarked upon by his administration in the central and northern senatorial districts of the state.
The Governor said that the plant when completed will boost the state’s agricultural potential which is in line with the government’s policy to take the state out of the woods.
He said his administration strides in infrastructure was enough to campaign for him come 2019.
Mr. Ayade was then taken on a guided tour of the facility.
Earlier, the state commissioner for Agriculture and mineral resources, Professor Anthony Eneji said that Tue state has continuously had successful plantation and supply scheme since the 60’s.
“Today marks the beginning of the realization of the dream to establish a processing plant,” said Mr. Eneji who described the idea of setting up the plant as a “bold move.”
He said the foundation stones for the various sectors of the project have been laid and said that if the state develops only a quarter of the over 2 million hectares of land in the state to cocoa production, then the state will be out of the woods.
And, the Vice President of the World Cocoa producers organization, Sayiina Riman in his remarks said that Cocoa plantation was brought into the state in the 1930’s by the okpara administration and said this was the first processing plant in this part of the country.
“This is the first ever cocoa processing factory being set up in this part of the Country,” he said and stated that: “Cross River and Ondo produce 60 percent of the national requirement” of Cocoa.
He called on the state to invest in fine flavoured Cocoa which he said will compliment the processing as the state will only be doing what is being done in Latin America which will fetch the government double earnings in revenue.
Mr. Riman described Cocoa as “the golden crop that built the oil industry” and said the estate will be the most sought after in Ikom which is viewed as the epicenter of Cocoa production in the state.
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