By Adekola Afolabi
Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, yesterday commissioned the Sunshine Chocolate Factory, the first of such in Nigeria.
The factory, a Public Private Partnership between Ondo State Government and a United States company, SPAGNVOLA CHOCOLATIERS, was established at Alade-Idanre in Idanre Local Government Area of the state.
Commissioning the factory, Governor Akeredolu who emphasised the economic importance of cocoa to Nigeria and the state, promised to continue to create jobs and develop the economy of the state, using cocoa value-chain.
Governor Akeredolu said the occasion was remarkable in view of the fact that what his administration inherited from the immediate past government was described by the facility consultant contracted by that same government as not suitable for a chocolate factory as a result of lack of modern equipment which have now been imported by the present administration.
He said to make the Sunshine Chocolate Factory functionally productive and sustainably profitable, the factory has been extricated from all forms of political controls and influences.
To guarantee constant supply of cocoa beans to the factory which has initial processing capacity of about 28 Metric Tons of Cocoa to 2.8Million of Chocolate, Governor Akeredolu said the Oda Cocoa Plantation which is over 1,744 Hectares has been resuscitated and made functional with over 250 Cocoa Farmers up scaling daily production from the farm.
The governor said to consolidate its foothold as the number one cocoa producer in Nigeria, his administration has established a modern cocoa farm at Ijugbere Camp in Ilale, Owo Local Government Area on 8,400Hectatres of land with the capacity to accommodate 2,000 youths who would be resident on the farm with a minimum of four hectares of Land per youth.
He also noted that about 200,000 plantain suckers have been planted at Ijugbere camp this year apart from other various achievements in the area of agriculture in the state.
Governor Akeredolu said his administration has within the last three years distributed over two million hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers across the state.
“As we are all aware, Ondo state is the number one cocoa producing state in Nigeria, and in order to consolidate this enviable leadership position, our administration at inception, put in place policies and programmes to significantly improve our output in quantity and quality on a sustainable basis”, he added.
In welcome address, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agric and Agric business, Akin Olotu commended the Governor for resuscitating the moribund industry with necessary equipment.
He said although the factory was started by the past administration, all the needed to equipments that will make it up to standard were not given to the industry.
Olotu explained that Governor Akeredolu’s total commitment to economic development of the state has brought back the neglected chocolate factory back to number one in the country, with good and standard equipments.
In his goodwill message, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Development and Investment, Boye Oyewumi, lauded the Governor for revamping the moribund industry to further create jobs and improve the economy of the state.
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