By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Cross River is the second largest producer of cocoa in the West African country of Nigeria with production in excess of 80,000 metric tons a year.
Cocoa from Cross River State has been judged one of the best in Nigeria even as the state has the potential to become the leading producer in the region.
Even with all these wonderful testimonials, Cocoa is not being processed as there has been no effort in the direction of value addition in terms of investment in Cocoa processing company in the state.
About 95 percent of total Cocoa production in Cross River State is sold out of the state and most possibly exported as Cocoa beans while less than 5 percent is processed locally. The failure to process Cocoa locally has led to loss of jobs and other economic benefits.
It has been whispered in some circles that it is a curse on the state, nation and continent, producing so much Cocoa, exporting most of the product unprocessed or with very little value addition for pittance, only to import finished products like chocolate at exorbitant costs.
It is in the light of this that the Senator Ben Ayade effort to build a NGN7 billion Cocoa processing plant in Ikom local government area of Cross River State is seen as a jinx breaker in the Cocoa rich southern state of Nigeria.
The governor of the state in a show of commitment to this project recently went on a working visit to Ikom to see things for himself and push for the quick completion of the project.
Citizens and stakeholders in the Cocoa subsector came out in their numbers to welcome the governor and show their appreciation for bringing that dream to life.
The project which is proposed as a public private partnership is part of the Cross River State industrialisation drive under the Senator Ben Ayade’s administration.
Value addition is the backbone of industrialisation for Cross River State and Cocoa processing is a part of the priority of the government’s industrial development agenda.
It is expected that the Cocoa processing firm when completed will be processed up to 30,000 metric tones of Cocoa annually into Cocoa butter, Cocoa liqueur, cakes and powder, among others for a start. This will have tremendous impact on the Cocoa value chain in the state.
To ensure the sustainability of the Cocoa subsector in the state, the government has been able to raise a nursery to expand our Cocoa farms and planted over 5,000 hectares of Cocoa in its Cocoa estate.
The government under the leadership of Senator Ben Ayade is also supporting local Cocoa farmers to boost production and made it a policy to open Cocoa farms across the state to engage youth in Cocoa farming.
The Cross River State government has also come up with a policy to encourage about 70 per cent local consumption of the Cocoa produced in the state. This is in a bid to ensure a steady market for the product of the factory.
The investment in Cocoa processing in Cross River State and expansion of the Cocoa value chain will create jobs for our citizens and contribute to the economic development of the state.
As Nigeria seeks to diversify its economy away from crude oil and Cross River State weans itself off the federally allocated revenue, investment in expansion of the Cocoa value chain and industrialization through value addition to Cocoa are sustainable ways to reach the place of our dream.
What is required is the support of all citizens and stakeholders and believe in the deep vision of our digital governor, Senator Professor Ben Ayade.
Emmanuel Etim is SSA to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State.
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