Ayade to enrich youths through cocoa production

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*Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, (3rd R), flanked by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu (R) the executive director, Nexim Bank, Hon. Stella Okotete (L) and the chief executive officer, AA Agro Industry Universal Services Ltd, Mr. Chris Agara, during the inspection of construction work at the Cross River Cocoa Processing Factory in Ikom local government area of the state.

The governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade has unveiled his administration’s policy that will turn young people in the state into millionaires through the production of cocoa.

Speaking in Ikom while inspecting the construction of an ultra-modern cocoa processing plant, Ayade said the government would make 100, 000 hectares of cocoa estate available for young men and women to cultivate.

“The commitment the government and people of Cross River State are making to Nigeria and indeed Africa is that we will ramp up production of cocoa to 350,000 metric tonnes per year. With immediacy, we are going to create 100,000 hectares of cocoa estate and make them available to young men and women to cultivate.

“Today, Cross River State is offering her young men and women their own oil wells right at their backyard because every part of state is rich enough to grow cocoa.

“So, I am saying that right at your backyard you are seeing your oil wells by just going into cocoa farming. We are ready to give you fund and if you grow beyond your carrying capacity, we have a partner in NEXIM Bank that has come in to fully support us,” he said.

Speaking after the inspection, the executive director of Nigeria Export and Import Bank (NEXIM), Stella Okotete lauded the state government’s initiative, which she said is in line with the economic policy of the federal government.

“It is a laudable project because it is in line with Mr. President’s economic recovery and growth plans and I believe that this project is coming at the right time when we are looking outside the oil and more on export to generate foreign exchange not just for Nigeria but also for the good people of Cross River State,” she said.

She disclosed that NEXIM, which is offering advisory services to the state on the project, would give the state all the support it needs to make the project a success.

“We (NEXIM) are going to be providing financial advisory services and funding indications for the people of the state. We are giving Cross River State a hundred percent support and if they need above that we are ready to give them more,” she added.

Also speaking, the national president, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Sayina Riman, described the project as wonderful and monumental which will further showcase Cross River State as a leading state in cocoa production.

Riman, who is also the vice president, World Cocoa producing Organization said: “In 2017, we are seeing a transformation that has never been seen before in South- South, Southeast of the Niger. This is the first ever cocoa producing factory in this country and this will not only complement employment but will add value to what we have.”

The governor was accompanied on the inspection tour by his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu, Okotete and some other key state government functionaries.

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