… To Facilitate Establishment of Cocoa Processing Plants in Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has expressed the readiness of the State to take advantage of its strategic geographical position and robust infrastructure to become a central hub for cocoa processing and trade in Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu revealed this at the International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum 2024 held on Thursday in Lagos and organised in partnership with the Nigerian Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) and the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria.
Represented by the Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperatives, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, Sanwo-Olu stated that Lagos is a trade hub for value addition and the ports in the State provide an excellent platform for exporting processed cocoa products to Africa and the world.
His words: “We are already working on a strategic roadmap for the State to explore the potentials of cocoa as we aim to increase its local processing to 40 percent of total production, facilitate the establishment of at least three major cocoa processing plants in Lagos – each with a capacity to process 10,000 metric tons annually, as well as train and empower over 20,000 cocoa Agro Processors/SMEs by 2025 through various programmes.
According to the Governor, transforming Nigeria’s cocoa sector into a more value-added and prosperous industry requires collective efforts and strategic partnerships in exploiting the potential of processing the crop into various products and derivatives for higher revenue generation, job creation, poverty alleviation, economic diversification and development.
“With the current economic challenges, compounded by the declining value of our national currency, we believe the nation can harness and multiply, in geometric proportion, the current economic benefits it is deriving from cocoa production through a multi-faceted approach. With its vision and resources, Lagos State is committed to leading this transformation. Together, we can create a sustainable and prosperous future for the cocoa industry, our economy, and our people”, he said.
He opined that Nigeria will always take pride in cocoa as a major cash crop that has not only been a strong force in its economic development, particularly in the South-West, but also, a critical means of livelihood for millions of farmers and a significant source of foreign exchange earnings.
The Special Guest of Honour and Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, represented by the Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in the State, Pastor Tola Faseru, stressed the need for improved infrastructure, like better roads for transporting cocoa beans, and reliable electricity and water supply for processing plants. He said these would greatly enhance the efficiency of processing the cocoa beans into various products.
In his keynote address, Honourable Minister of the Environment, Mallam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, represented by the Director, South-West and Southern Geo-Political Zones, Mrs. Olusola Margaret Akinyemi, emphasised the importance of collective efforts among all stakeholders for the development of cocoa production and its transformation into various derivatives in Nigeria.
She said apart from sustainable farming practices that will help to promote cocoa production, there is the need to be a balance between investment and sustainable development, while the circular economy is the in thing and on everything.