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C’River To Rake In $100m From Cocoa Factory

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One hundred million dollar is to be generated on annual basis into the coffers of the Cross River State Government from proceeds which will acrue from the state cocoa processing factory set up by the administration of Prof. Ben Ayade in Ikom Local Government Area of the State.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof Anthony Eneji, stated this during an assessment visit to the cocoa processing factory and the ultra modern rice processing factory sited in  both in Ikom and Ogoja local government areas of the State yesterday.
The commissioner expressed satisfaction with the progress of work currently on-going at project sites and also said that to ensure steady availability of cocoa for processing at the factory, the state government has begun the planting of seedlings/nursery to boost production which will feed the plant when the plant becomes fully operational.
“It is a N100 billion project. Already, we have raised five million cocoa seedlings to ensure the plant does not run short of produce,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of A. A. Universal Agro Industries Limited, handlers of the project, Chris Agara, who also spoke at te event said, “the installed capacity of this processing plant is between 40,000 to 60,000 tons. What we have here is a three-phase facility. The first phase is to clean and dry the cocoa for export, thus giving a lot of value to the beans that will be exported.
“The second phase is processing the beans after which it is processed into powder in the third phase for chocolate, for beverage and other cocoa related product. The project is about 90 percent completed. The entire equipment needed for installation to complete the first phase are here.
“The economic benefits of the plant are enormous. I have been privileged to attend a number of world cocoa conferences with emphasis on the end users of cocoa products. The point is that by the time we create an identity for Ikom as a place that produces organic and pure cocoa, the entire world’s focus will be on this place.’’
“The plan is to have about four to five of this plant around here.
So, if we are generating between $500 million to $1 billion annually, you know what that means to the economy of the state,” Agara said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Rev Joseph Ugbe, who also accompanied the commisioner to visit the plant, stressed that the project was well conceived and by first quarter next year it should be completed.
Ugbe said, “You know Ikom has been well known for cocoa production and for this factory to be located here, it is going to benefit the people, the farmers and the State. It will also boost the Nigerian economy. We are also happy to be part of it. That is why we are here to ensure that whatever is done here is in order. The factory will provide employment for the teeming youths.”
In his welcome remarks, the Project Manager, A.A. Universal Agro Industries Limited, Dapo Obayemi, averred that the factory when fully operational would be interested in the processing of cocoa beans that is organic so as to get a flavor the can rank among flavors that are of international standard.
“it is the first of its kind south of the Niger. It is something that will yield the desired result. This is a 10-ton per hour processing factory. In terms of volume, you know what that is. Apart from that, it is something that has come to add value to cocoa processing in Nigeria. You can call this a cocoa refinery. Obayemei said.
Speaking shortly in a visit  to the place of  paramount Ruler of Yala LGA Ogamode Ipuole shortly after assessing the  ultra modern rice processing factory, the monarch charge the state government to ensure that employment opportunities are given to youths of the host communities to work in the factory so to reduce the high rate of unemployment in the area.
The monarch said that his qiuteness concerning the land given to the state government by the  community for the factory dosent nean that there were no agitations. “There are a lot and lots of agitations is just that i have been on top of the game telling my people particularly youths in the are to calm down. All we want as a community is for our youths to get opportunity to work whenever the factory kicks off.” Ogamode said.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar.

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Forex Restriction On Food Importation Requires Clarity -MAN

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The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) says clarity is needed on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on restriction of foreign exchange for food importation.
Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir disclosed this last Friday in Lagos.
It would be recalled that President Buhari gave the directive when he hosted the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors at his country home in Daura, Katsina state during Eid-el-Kabir on August 13.
The president said the foreign reserve would be used strictly for diversification of the economy and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food.
“Though the directive was laudable, clarity would be required and the country needed to be deliberate and strategic in pursuing such a far-reaching monetary measure.
“Especially in the light of our vulnerability occasioned by trade agreements that require the country to be more open to imports and the well-known antics of our neighboring countries,” Ajayi-Kadir said in a statement.
According to him, the directive is broad and needs to be specific and targeted, adding that there should be strategic implementation to achieve the purpose intended by government.
“We need to know what type of food; finished and ready to eat or as input for further processing.
“In the case of the latter (in particular) we need to know the local capacity available compared to national demand and if not adequate, creditably determine what time and resources are needed to ramp up capacity and production.
“It is pertinent to pre-determine these suggestions as part of the implementation strategy.
“To achieve sustainable self-sufficiency, local producers ought to be incentivised otherwise we may be inviting a looming barrage of smuggling activities,” he said.
He warned that the policy might be counterproductive if implemented by fiat, without ensuring necessary alignment with the fiscal and other economic policy initiatives of the present administration.
Ajayi-Kadir stressed that the necessary support that would sustain the “steady progress in agricultural production” and attainment of “full food security” should be considered.
He added that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would need to conduct an assessment of the country’s position in practical terms and realistically weigh its options before embarking on such a far-reaching policy.
“There should also be a process to be followed before such a plan is unfolded. On an issue as critical as this, a unilateral decision could be counterproductive when the operators are not duly consulted.
“We must also consider the state of our infrastructure and its capacity to respond and support the policy,” he said.
Ajayi-Kadir said MAN actively supported resource-based industrialisation, and its stance had been on improving local sourcing of raw materials and developing sustainable value chains.
He said the association believed that value addition to products created more jobs and wealth for the nation.

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Tackle Insecurity To Boost Foreign Investment, Group Tells FG

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The Committee on Youth Mobilisation and Sensitisation (CYMS) has called on the Federal Government to tackle issues of insecurity in the country in order to boost direct foreign investment.
The Director General, CYMS,Mr Obinna Nwaka, made the call when the group appeared on a Personality Interview Programme of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Forum, yesterday in Abuja.
Nwaka said foreign investors would not come to invest their money in an environment that is not secured, because of uncertainty of re-cupping their investments.
According to him, every good business person prefers a predictable and serene environment to invest their money.
He said the government must do all it could to ensure that the country was seen to be peaceful by the international community to boost the confidence of those willing to invest in the country.
Nwaka while speaking on issues affecting youths in the country, said that unemployment was critical and must also be tackled by the government.
He advised that the government should ensure that all its agencies undergoing recruitment should provide a level playing ground for all citizens, so that the people who are qualified could be given employment.
“They should not hijack it from above and they should allow the Federal Character Commission, the Senate, the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity to also be part of the recruitment processes.
“With this, people who deserve to be employed will be employed, people who have the passion to serve in the military or para-military will be given opportunity to serve in the military.
“Not people who don’t have the passion but because they have a godfather in the government, after giving them the employment they stay back at home they don’t go to the war front,” he said.
He said the issue of ‘godfatherism’ should be eradicated from recruitment and every citizen should be given the same opportunity to show their capability in any job.
Nwaka said that President Muhammadu Buhari should endeavour to put someone with detail knowledge of agriculture to serve as the minister.
He said this was because agriculture seems to be the only sector for now that could ensure adequate employment for young people.
The group leader added that the young people are now willing to make themselves relevant in the agricultural sector.
“So, these fundamental issues, security, and ensuring a level playing ground in recruitment processes and agriculture are very crucial.
” If the Federal Government can look into these three key issues, I believe the level of unemployment and crimes will reduce in this country.

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Insecurity: Expect Drop In FDIs – Expert

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A university teacher, Prof. Sarah Anyanwu of the Department of Economics, University of Abuja, says with the increasing insecurity in the country, a drop in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) is expected.
Prof. Anyanwu said this yesterday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen.
According to her, every investor wants a conducive business environment for his capital and will not want to establish businesses in places where security is not guaranteed.
“Even as a Nigerian, not to talk of foreigners, you will not go and site an industry in areas where insurgency is the order of the day.
“There is kidnapping and herdsmen killing going on at the same time and foreigners keep hearing that people are being kidnapped daily and ransom has to be paid.
“So, for those that already have investments in Nigeria, that is enough to drive them out and those that are out will not be willing to come in.
“Both the rich and poor are being kidnapped, so it is a problem to even Nigerians and not foreigners alone”, she said.
Prof. Anyanwu was also worried about the porousness of Nigerian borders, saying it is a major source of concern as foreigners who had no business being in Nigeria at all came and went at will.
Anyanwu said the nation’s borders should be strictly monitored with security tightened at all points to keep track of movement in and out to avoid people coming in anyhow to commit crime.
She, however, advised that security should be heightened with all security agencies playing their part to secure lives and properties.
The academic also said that no stone should be left unturned to promote the image of Nigeria internationally in every way and avoid situations where Nigerians in diaspora have to stage protests concerning the country.
According to Anyanwu, such scenarios send the wrong signal to prospective investors.
She also noted that electricity should be improved on as lack of it was driving the cost of doing business up.
Anyanwu also advocated good infrastructure to be provided for businesses to thrive.
A United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had released a report in June, saying FDIs into Nigeria plunged by 43 per cent in 2018 to two billion dollars.

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