By Inwalomhe Donald
Ede Cocoa Processing Plant, Osun State is the only attracting cocoa factory among the Nigeria’s remaining five cocoa processing factories to tap export demand for butter, cake and powder tea production. The once moribund Cocoa Processing Company received a lifeline with the intervention of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and two Chinese firms who have resuscitated the comatose industry. The Plant has no debt burden and it is now producing Nigeria’s cocoa cake, powder, chocolate and butter. This makes it easy for Nigeria’s processed cocoa to compete favourably with its peers anywhere, being one of the fastest selling and most desirable agricultural commodities in the international market due to the rapid growth and expansion of chocolate confectioneries and other products.
Ile-Oluji Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s oldest cocoa processing firm has only processed 2,000 metric tons of Cocoa since the beginning of the year, which is by far below its 30,000 metric tons installed capacity. FTN Cocoa Processors PLC, a company listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange with a 20,000MT processing capacity showed that it has only been able to process 600MT between January and June. Multi-Trex Integrated Foods PLC, Nigeria’s largest cocoa processing factory with a production capacity of 65,000MT per annum, has since been shut down and thereafter taken over by the Asset Management Corporation Organisation of Nigeria (AMCON) over a N5 billion non-performing loan the processor acquired from Skye Bank.
With Cocoa Processing Plant in Ede, Osun is putting a stop to billions of naira that Nigerians are using to import chocolate and other cocoa products from EU countries. The plant is now producing “Made in Nigeria” Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Cake, Cocoa Powder and Chocolates and set to flood world market with “Made in Nigeria” chocolates. The plant is back after more than 30yrs of wobbling and fumbling.
Despite living in one of the zones of the world’s biggest grower of cocoa beans, Nigerian residents have never quite embraced chocolate as part of the national diet, but Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun has provided lifeline for cocoa farmers in Nigeria. Interestingly, Osun is a major producer of chocolate and a major cocoa-producing state. The state is the third largest cocoa producer in the South West after Ondo and Oyo states and it largely draws its rising profile as a big role player and producer of the cash crop from Cocoa Farms.
The arrival of a new chocolate factory in Osun will also allow Nigerian planters to finally access the pleasure of chocolate. Osun chocolate is said to be targeting the local market, then progressively expand to the sub-region. The factory is initially producing cocoa powder and chocolate. Despite its Chinese ownership, the plant represents a small victory in the continent’s battle to profit from its natural resources instead of exporting them to be processed elsewhere. The African country’s first major chocolate factory hopes to change all that.
Osun Cocoa powder can be used in so many ways; you can buy cocoa powder from a retail store and make a semi-sweet chocolate at home through some easy procedures. Remember, a semi-sweet or raw chocolate comes with little or no sugar and they contribute little calories to your daily diet. Cocoa powder itself is obtained from cocoa beans by first cleaning the beans and then partially drying them before roasting at high temperature. Cocoa powder is obtained from the milling and separating cocoa butter from the liquid. Cocoa butter is used for making chocolate while the liquid is further processed to obtain other products including the powder.
Smallholder cocoa farmers and other stakeholders are happy over the establishment of an elaborate cocoa processing plant that produce chocolate, Osun is 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. The governor has brought innovation and localized the processing of cocoa products for 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 the 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 the local people in the next two years in the state, especially Youths and this will help to support the industrialization efforts of Governor Aregbesola.
With this plant, farmers can now distribute new high yield cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers, and continue to allow the purchase of chemicals and inputs at 50% subsidy.
With 14 states producing and harvesting the crop for 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 company and the production of cocoa products 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 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 two China-based companies -Skyron Corporation and Golden Monkey Group of Company had promised the production of chocolate and others in Ede. Golden Monkey Corporation remains the number one producer of candies and chocolate in China, hence, reviving the cocoa processing company in Ede has not been a problem.
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.