Ede Cocoa Processing Plant: Aregbesola’s Lifeline For Cocoa Farmers In Nigeria

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Smallholder cocoa farmers and other stakeholders are happy over the establishment of an elaborate cocoa processing plant in Ede, Osun State, and the third largest cocoa producing state in the country. They are happy that the plant will be able to check the bleak future of the business which is presently facing stiff international competition as well as government overbearing influence, so the smallholder famers will stop to lament daily.

With Ede cocoa processing plant, Governor Aregbesola has expanded assistance to cocoa farmers and numerous stakeholders within the cocoa value sequence regarding the development of cocoa in Nigeria. Governor Aregbesola has brought innovation and localized the processing of cocoa products in the 14 cocoa producing states in Nigeria. With over twenty million cocoa farmers in Nigeria, Osun-China’s cooperation over Ede cocoa processing plant has given lifeline to Nigerian cocoa farmers who could not export their products before now. The partnership with one of China’s Most popular politicians and business leaders Qizan Zhao; Deputy Leader of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China and one of the leading businessmen in China is producing a N10bn investment in Osun and over 1000 jobs for local people in the next two years in the state especially Youths and this will help to support the industrialization efforts of Governor Aregbesola

The moribund Cocoa Processing Company in Ede, Osun state, received a lifeline with the intervention of Governor Aregbesola and two Chinese firms who have promised to resuscitate the comatose industry. Governor Aregbesola is providing a lifeline for 14 cocoa producing states in the country through the cocoa processing plant which is the only plant that is functioning today in Nigeria. With this plant farmers can now distribute new high yield cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers, and continues to allow the purchase of chemicals and inputs at 50% subsidy.

Nigeria is one of the largest cocoa producing countries in the world. With 14 states producing and harvesting the crop Nigeria exports well over 242,000 tons of Cocoa. Governor Aregbesola has connected Nigerian cocoa farmers to the Ede cocoa processing plant and they can source cocoa easily here for Osun buyers

The resuscitation of the cocoa products company is creating jobs and generating revenue for Osun state and Nigeria, which have been hit by severe budget crisis that has left government with revenue deficit. In Nigeria, We are not producing enough Cocoa and with Ede cocoa processing plant, there will be more participation in cocoa farming in Nigeria which will enhance proper management to get the best yield.

Cocoa Dealers or Cocoa Agents in Osun State today make money by buying the cocoa beans from the farmers in the 14 cocoa producing states in Nigeria and selling directly to the Ede cocoa processing company. The business is equally available for companies that want to go into cocoa marketing, distribution, and exportation.

The newly resuscitated Osun State cocoa processing industry in Ede has begun processing cocoa as part of the state’s industrialisation programme. The company, which was inaugurated on October 17 , 1982, had stopped production in 2001 due to obsolete equipment and management issues. The cocoa processing plant, Ede was established to facilitate the processing of cocoa seedlings into raw materials for advanced cocoa products marketable around the world was resuscitated after 15 years of dilapidation by the Aregbesola administration. With the inauguration of its new handlers, the company is expected to in the next few weeks be a source of income generation, creation of wealth and promote the massive industrialization efforts of the present administration in Osun.

Providing employment for a large section of the population, agriculture remains a major source of economic activity in Nigeria. Nigeria produced 300 000 tonnes of cocoa in 2016. South West Nigeria is regarded as the cocoa belt of the country, accounting for 70 per cent of Nigeria’s annual production of 300,000 metric tonnes in 2016. ‎The two China-based companies -Skyron Corporation and Golden Monkey Group of Company – promised that production will commence at the cocoa factory in the next few weeks. David Shi, who led the Skyron group, said ‎the company has been in the business of cocoa processing in the last 10 years and that their firm is similar to that of Ede. He held that the company was sure of turning around the moribund cocoa processing company in no distant time.

According to him, “Cocoa processing industry is not a new terrain to Skyron having been engaging in similar sector and company in the last 10 years”.

“Skyron group had a turnover of $6.4billion in the year 2014 with visible investment in agriculture and construction sector established across the world including Lagos and other states in Nigeria”. Also, the head of delegation of Golden Monkey Corporation of China, Liu Jin Hiu, assured that aside resuscitation of cocoa industry, a Confectionery Company will also be established.

Mr. Liu also added that the group was ready to embark on massive production of cassava as raw materials for the confectionery.
He said, “Golden Monkey Corporation remains the number one producer of candies and chocolate in China, reviving the cocoa processing company in Ede will not be a problem.

“The partnership with the government of Osun in reviving the cocoa project will end up being a win-win partnership project. We have several investment companies in West Africa, especially Cote D’voire with 55 additional branches throughout the world.”

In his remarks, Governor Aregbesola disclosed that the Osun state was ready to provide an enabling environment for the investors, urging them to consult him whenever they have challenges in pushing ahead the investment.

The governor, who also spoke on cassava production and processing, said the state is the largest producer of cassava in the country.

He assured that land and personnel already committed to cassava cultivation and investment are guaranteed, saying the government will look forward to a speedy revival of the cocoa processing company in Osun.

Mr. Aregbesola also advised the foreign investors to be ‎up to date in the use of technology and equipment by replacing the obsolete machinery in the moribund company.

“We hope that with result-oriented activities and hard work, your company should hit the ground running as we are committed to ensuring that your investment will yield profit as operation commences,” the governor said.
“We desire for others what we desire for ourselves. We therefore challenge you to allow activities to start at the Cocoa processing company in Ede latest November this year.”

Industries, commerce, cooperatives and empowerment commissioner, Ismail Alagbada, said the company is now processing 20,000 tonnes of cocoa on a daily basis. The cocoa processing plant was revived in partnership with Golden Monkey of China. This according to him has increased the production capacity of the company by 400 per cent from 2001 period.

The commissioner said, “At present, the company is processing 20,000 tonnes of cocoa into cocoa liquor for both local and international consumption, thus increasing the production capacity of the company by 400 per cent from 2001 period.

He said Osun is holding 30 per cent equity in the revitalised firm. “Through this partnership, many people in Osun would learn the trade of cocoa processing; the possibilities are just endless. At least, now, our people know that more value accrues to them if they process cocoa rather than exporting in its raw form,” the commissioner stated.

Osun State is the third largest cocoa producer in the South West after Ondo and Oyo states. The state largely draws its rising profile as a big role player and producer of the cash crop from Cocoa Farms.