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Monday, March 7, 2011

citySTRINGS

THISDAY, Vol. 16, No. 5796, Page 53

'Cocoa, Veritable Source of Employment for the Youth' For a country known for its love for crude oil and basically adores it as her major source of national survival, stakeholders in the cocoa processing industry in Nigeria have called on the Federal Government to revive the ailing industry to generate employment for the teeming army of the youth. By TAIWO AKINTUNDE

B

efore now, Nigeria was known as one of the largest producers of cocoa worldwide. Ever since the discovery of oil wells in the country, the nation's economy has shifted attention to the much lucrative natural resource. How~ver. today, several cases of unemployment have generated from this situation foisted by the country's 'mono-economy.' The cocoa industry has seen itself relegated and several processing industries have closed down as a result of this. This is a threat to the development of a nation that has many goals one of which is to become fully developed and rub shoulders with 'super power' nations of the world by the year 2020. This however, is al so a threat to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to move the nation forward and develop rural communities in the country. In a bid to restore value and life to the cocoa industry, the FIN Cocoa Processors Nigeria PIc in conjunction with Cocoa Processors Association of Nigeria and other stakeholders in the industry have caIled on the Federal Government to restore stabil. ity and put more focus on the dying sector of the economy. While addressing journalists, Chairman of COPAN Mr. AkID Olusuyi disclosed the deteriorating situation of the industry. "With the way the Nigerian economy is going, especially the cocoa industry, I fear that this country will run into problems which are not good for the development plans of the government. For example, one of the major setbacks the industry is facing is energy. "The price of diesel has gone up because of the cnSlS lfl northern Africa. This has greatly increased the cost of production. We are calling on the Federal Government to do something because we are in a delicate situation as far as energy is concerned. Some of the factories processing cocoa have shut down because of this crisis. They should come up with some sort of subsidy or provide p,>wer for the industry;' he said. He said COPAN also welcomes the idea of the marketing

-Cocoa tree ... can be veritable source of employment

board and hoped that the marketing board would start as soon as possible. The association is ready to partner with the Federal Government on the modalities of the marketing board. The association is also concerned about the crisis in Cote d' Ivoire. For a country being the largest producer of cocoa beans in the world, this threat is affecting Nigeria because the nation's cocoa economy is heavily deregulated. Local prices in Nigeria are higher than international prices. He said exporters have invaded the country and this is a threat to the cocoa industry. Rather than <'.eveloping the industry, exporters take away the cocoa and with the ACP agreement crisis, right now the ratios are not favourable to the processors in Nigeria. Many cocoa processing companies in Nigeria are at the risk of closure due to bank debts. 'This is happening because many

1;xercise Gone Awry in Ibadan 路Cont'dfrompg62landlords and residents to stop harbouring criminals in their houses and shops. He said that the government was disturbed by the activities of some elements who had continued to terrorise the people of the area and making the area unsafe in spite of all the efforts of the landlords and community leaders in the area to rid the community of them. The chairman explained that the security checks at the area, on the ill-fated day, were in response to the petitions and appeals made by landlords and other members of the public on the menace of the thugs and miscreants in the area. The chairman, who commended the action of the security agencies, called on the people of the area to continue with their normal daily activities, stating that the security age"cies were on top of the situation. He however, charged the residents, landlords and conununity leaders in the area not to harbour criminals in their houses and shops and give their total support to all the efforts being made by the security agents in the bid to restore sanity for peace and progress to the area. . Olaosebikan stated further that the contlDUed stay of the hoodlums in路 any disguise would not dQ the people, the community, the local government area and the state any good. "As a responsible and responsive government, the government of the day would continue to do ils best in protecting the life and property of the citizenry and do everything possible to protect them at all times, pointing out that the issue at stake was the safety of lives and property of the people of Olomi area and it should be seen as such without any introduction of any extraneous senti-

ments into it;' he said. However, the families of the casualties in the clash have rejected the bodies and called on Tokyo to find their children for them. The police chief on his own stated that he had launched an investigation into the criais, vowing that the command would get to the root of the matter. He maintained that the command was determined to find the cause of the mayhem. Bolanta revealed that the command is yet to make any arrest and confirmed that the number of casualty recorded during the clash was two and not four as claimed by some newspapers. He assured the people of the state, especially residents of Olomi area in Ibadan, of the safety of their lives and property, adding that men of the Oyo State Police are up to the task of providing the people of Oyo State adequate security at any point in time. In the meantime, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Michael Lana, has raised the alarm over alleged thr.atto his life. Lana who is the counsel to Tokyo in the legal ..battle for the soul of the union office in a press release made available to. newsmen in Ibadan alerted that some govemment agents have heen threatening his life through phone calls since the bloody attack on the NURTW Olomi, Ibadan Secretariat. Some people suspected to be government agents, he路alleged, were quoted as saying. through phone calls that they would "cook up crimes and raise false witnesses through the ministry of justice against him, and if this should fail, he would lose his life."

investors have pumped in money and not getting anything in return. The association said that the government should set up a marshal plan to increase Nigerian crops. Nigeria, he said, has enough land mass to be able to grow cocoa. "We are calling on the government of the South-west and other regions in the country whose climates are favourable to the growth of Cocoa to act now. We are also calling on the government to enable entrepreneurs and encourage them to go into cocoa farming," he added. The government, he said, can also intervene by providing sources of financial and human capital for these farmers who have the interest of growing Cocoa. "I am sure people will be encouraged to go into cocoa fanning and in the next four years, we are likely to increase the output of cocoa and make it a major source of revenue generation for the growth and development of the country;' he said further. COPAN pleaded with the Federal Government to prevail on the Nigerian Exports Promotion Council and with the Ministry of Finance to urgently pay outstanding export expansion grants from 2007 to 2009. The association is also calling for immediate adoption and implementation of blue print report on the presidential committee on cocoa processing in Nigeria set up by the Presidency last July. "We take note that even though President Goodluck Jonathan promised that the committee will come out with a productive report, we are yet to see or hear from them formally or otherwise;' he added. Akin said if the government does not want this industry to survive, they should let them know so that everybody involved could pack up and move elsewhere. He said the situation affects the youths of this nation as the cocoa industry would have employed them enmass after graduation. To set up the smallest cocoa industry in Nigeria today, he said, would cost nothing less than N3 I illion. A major problem the industry also faces is inconsistency in policy and lackadaisical attitude of the government. Currently, the Cocoa processing industry have a basic data of over 150,000 employees directly or indirectly. . Also speaking in the area of Cocoa exporting was Publicity Secretary of COPAN, Mr. Simon Conway-Jarrett said the government should lift the policy of paying grants to exporters rather than generating revenue from them. "If the government has to show serious concern on this situation, they need to act fast and restore the fast-dying cocoa industry in the country. 1 also think it is not proper to aHow exporters get grants for exporting this commodity and still bring it back and sell to the same govemmenc This is not encouraging the industry in anyway:' he said.


THISDAY, Vol.16, No. 5796, Page 53