By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, has expressed satisfaction with ongoing work at the 30,000 tonnes per annum cocoa processing plant in Ikom.
Ayade, who was visibly excited by the delivery of equipment for the plant, said the factory will soon be ready for commissioning.
“I am really impressed. As you can see, intellectual money is on display here. From what I have seen, the contractors deserve excellent pats on the back. This is what we call commitment and consistency, the governor remarked”.
He said the plant has the capacity to process cocoa beans to chocolate bars.
“Again, we are going to be the first in Africa as this is the first cocoa processing plant that will process cocoa beans to chocolate, he stated”.
He said with the delivery of the equipment, his vision for cocoa revolution in the state is crystalizing.
The governor, who said he knew from the first day he was sworn in, what he needed to do to enhance the economic well-being of the people, said the plant will bring about value-chain addition to cocoa, which will ultimately enrich cocoa farmers in the state.
“This is the spirit of intellectual money and Cross River ultimately will be proud that I knew where I was going from the beginning. I am following an agenda that at the end of my eight years in office, when every single citizen of the state remembers my days, he or she will say this young man had a great vision”.
“For all the years gone by Cross River has been producing cocoa for other states to bear the name because we did not have an off-take mechanism, we did not have a programme by government to buy off the cocoa at good rates. So, outsiders used to come in and buy the cocoa from us and grade it as cocoa from their own state”.
The plant, which will soon be operational, now offers cocoa farmers in the state “the opportunity, platform and industry to process their own cocoa, giving a premium value for money. A cocoa house is going to be built here. Once you have a cocoa farm, you just come here, collect money during harvest, we take your cocoa, so you have money for the product and you don’t have to go to bank to get a loan.”
Ayade therefore, urged the people of the central senatorial district to see the cocoa processing plant as their own baby by ensuring no harm comes to it.