Efforts by the Prof. Ben Ayade-led Cross River State government to diversify the state’s economy, generate jobs and curtail capital flight, may soon come to fruition as it warms up to officially commission a cocoa processing factory located in Ikom Local Government Area of the state.
The factory, which recently took delivery of equipment for the plant’s test run, according to Governor Ayade, is the first cocoa processing factory in the West African sub-region that goes from cocoa bean to chocolate bar designed for the export market.
Speaking recently on the readiness of the plant for commissioning and commencement of production, Ayade said, “this cocoa processing plant is one bold sign that indeed Cross River State is ready to lead Africa into an industrial revolution. It is my commitment that I’m going to make young Cross Riverians green millionaires. Green that they are fresh, green that it is agriculture-based.”
The Cross River State governor added: “Goodbye to those days you used to dry cocoa on tarred roads; goodbye to those days when the flavour of our cocoa was lost due to wrong cleaning and wrong processing. Today, we have an ultramodern 21st Century latest technology in processing of cocoa.”
The cocoa processing plant, which will process 500,000 tonnes of cocoa beans from the state and neighbouring West African countries including Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea for export, will also process 240 tonnes of cocoa daily, which will be turned into liquor and chocolate bars for export to Europe and China.
The new cocoa processing factory, in addition to numerous other investments in the manufacturing sector of the economy, including a multibillion naira chicken processing plant in Calabar which has the capacity to process 24,000 chickens a day; a rice processing programme that targets 5,000 people in the next one year, making maximum use of commercial and mechanised farming methods; the Calavita Noodles factory in Calabar which aims at meeting the South-South zone’s demand for noodles, and a new fertiliser plant, are all evidences of the administration’s desire to positively impact the lives of the Cross River State people.