By George Odok
The Cross River Government and Israeli Bean & Co. Global Ltd. has signed a full Venture/Public Private Partnership agreement of 15 million dollars.
The agreement was for the establishment of a special cocoa city project in the state, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
The online virtual signing was carried out on Wednesday in Calabar, while the Memorandum of Understanding had earlier been signed on Feb. 14.
The Cross River Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Okon Owuna and the Director General of Cocoa Regeneration Agency, Mr Collins Ogar, signed on behalf of the state government.
The state Commissioner for Justice, Mr Tanko Ashang, witnessed the agreement signing.
On the side of the Isreali, the Managing Partner, LR Group and Bean & Co, Mr Doron Rette, signed on behalf of the company.
Owuna explained that the agreement has two components, the Agro Industrial Centre with a processing plant, seedlings nursery and training facility as well as pulp powder and dry cocoa beans for export.
He said that the second component was the Farmers Outgrowers Scheme, which will cover 5,000 to 10,000 hectares of land.
According to him, thousands of farmers will be involved and will operate under the technical protocol of Bean & Co who will buy all their produce consisting of the pods and wet cocoa beans.
The Commissioner said that 65 per cent of the project sum would be covered by Bean & Co and its partners, while the state government would cover the remaining.
“As stated above, this project will increase cocoa farmers’ earnings three times over and increase productivity six times over.
“The project will engage thousands of farmers and employ Crossriverians in the cocoa city plus technology transfer.
“The outgrowing scheme will cover Etung, Ikom, Boki, Obubra, Obudu and Akamkpa which are the cocoa producing local government areas in the state.
“Under the funding proposal, the farmers will receive about N2.4million loan for four years to cover seedlings, pesticides, fertilizers, training, growing protocols and other necessary inputs,” he said.
He added that due to the long gestation and harvest time for cocoa which takes an average of four years, repayment of the loan would commence in the fifth year.
In his remarks, the DG of Cocoa Regeneration Agency, Ogar, assured that the Ministry and the Agency would work tirelessly to ensure the success of the project.
Speaking through the virtual video conferencing, President of LR Group, Mr Roy Yami, said the contract would be a good investment opportunity for cocoa farmers in the state.