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.
CAC Registers 245,000 SMEs Free Of Charge
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) says it has registered more than 245,000 Small and Medium Enterp-rises free of charge.
The Registrar-General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, said in Abuja on Wednesday that it did this with the approval of the Federal Government.
The Federal Government, he said, approved the free registration of 250,000 business names as part of its intervention to assuage the economic effect of Covid-19.
He said the Federal Government paid 50 per cent of the cost of registration to CAC and more than 245,000 business names were consequently registered.
Abubakar explained that the process was electronic and applicants also got their certificates electronically.
He added that the numbers were divided between the 36 states of the federation and the FCT noting that Lagos, Abia and Kano States had the largest numbers.
He said free registration of 6, 606 business names was approved for 33 states while Abia, Lagos and Kano States would have 7, 906, 9,084 and 8,406 respectively.
Abubakar noted that aggregators were appointed and paid to collect SMEs information and submit same to CAC.
He explained that the commission provided special access for the aggregators for effective service delivery since they were responsible for scanning and uploading of documents.
He added that CAC had to take over from one of the aggregators appointed for two states but failed to deliver.
Abubakar said also that the intervention of CAC and appointment of substitute aggregators to take over in the two states sped up the process, already nearing completion.
“We are hoping that by end of September the exercise will come to an end,’’ he said.
IPMAN Seeks Foreign Partnership For Robust Refinery Deal
The Chairman, Rivers State Chapter of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr King Eppie, has said that he would be seeking the partnership of foreign bodies as part of his plans to strengthen the association.
Eppie said this when he spoke in a chat with newsmen in his office in Eleme, Eleme Local Government Area, Rivers State, Wednesday.
He pointed out that such plans would also encourage business growth especially to some of his members whom he said are experiencing stormy business weather.
According to him, the challenging business condition was as a result of non functional refineries in the country, stressing the need to seek for partnership.
He said that since its core business area was petroleum products, that his leadership would do all within its reach to improve the system.
The Rivers IPMAN boss, expressed hope that the ailing refineries in the country would bounce back to life.
“ I will be happy to see the refineries working again. Most of our members are suffering and business is no longer what it used to be, that’s why I want the refineries to come back to operation”, he said.
About the issue of legal battle in the association, he said that his team has been vindicated by the Apex court by declaring him the authentic chairman of IPMAN in Rivers State.
He recalled that the association was in a legal battle for about eight years, but expressed joy over its victorious end.
To those who were on the other side of the divide, he said that he has extended an olive branch to them as part of his plans to run an all inclusive government.
“ The platform for those who went to court against us has been created for them to come back to the fold. IPMAN is one in the state and we are open to all, that is why we want everyone to come back”, he said.
The Tide learnt that the IPMAN chairman is barely one week in office after years of legal battle that greeted the association as a result of leadership tussle.
1,818 MSMEs Benefit From Covid-19 Recovery Package In Delta
No fewer than 1,818 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have benefited from Federal Government and the World Bank Covid-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) in Delta.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa addressed the beneficiaries at the launch of funds disbursement in Asaba on Wednesday.
He commended the Federal Government and the World Bank for the partnership to provide succour for those affected by the pandemic in the country.
He said that now that the scheme had been domesticated in the state, the beneficiaries were in the first phase of the programme.
Okowa also lauded the Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) for supporting the federal government to ensure that the programme was approved by the World Bank for implementation in Nigeria.
He also thanked the World Bank for the intervention and for working with state governments in the country towards cushioning the socio-economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic on the people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
According to Okowa, today’s ceremony is a major step at putting MSMEs that are badly hurt by the pandemic on the path of recovery and growth.
He said this was “more so, with the disbursement of funds to the first set of 1,818 beneficiaries who have met the World Bank stipulated eligibility criteria within the initial six months.
“A total of 2,529 MSMEs are expected to receive grants to support post-covid-19 loans, operational costs and to enhance their IT capabilities.
“Indeed, we are glad to be part of the CARES programme of the Federal Government.
“The focus of intervention clearly aligns with the priority of the state government to give relief to those whose lives, businesses, jobs and means of livelihood have been distorted by the pandemic.
“The programme, which we have domesticated as the Delta CARES, is a two-year emergency recovery programme.
“It is aimed at supporting state governments’ budgeted programme of expenditures and interventions.
“It is to enable them to expand access to livelihood support, food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms,” he said.
He said that the programme would also directly support 25,269 poor and vulnerable households with social transfers, basic services and livelihood grants.
The governor said it would as well support 13,976 farmers to boost food production and ensure smooth functioning of the food supply chain.
“The outlined figures are the targets stipulated by the World Bank, but do not preclude the State Government from scaling up if the need arises.
“It is my expectation that those charged with the implementation of Delta-CARES will be faithful in executing the mandate so that the desired results are achieved, bearing in mind that it is a Programme for Result (PforR),” Okowa said.
On his part, Dr Barry Pere-Gbe, Chairman, Steering Committee for Delta-CARES and State Commissioner for Economic Planning, commended Okowa for providing the funds for the programme.
Pere-Gbe was represented by the Commissioner for Youths Development, Mr Ifeanyi Egwunyenga.
He said that the main focus of the programme was to bring succour to residents whose means of livelihood had been disrupted by the impacts of Covid-19.
He said that the programme was hinged on three thematic area.
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