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By Blessing Enagu.

In a significant move towards fostering effective and sustainable operations of Critical Stakeholders in the Agricultural Sector, the  Cross River State Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development has engaged strategically with Cocoa Exporters operating in the State.
During an interactive session in the Commissioner’s office in Calabar, the Stakeholders had a comprehensive discussion on their operational peculiarities to address pressing issues as well as develop sustainable models for transacting Cocoa business in the State.
In his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Hon Johnson Andiambey Ebokpo welcomed the Stakeholders to the meeting and emphasized the need for an all-inclusive partnership between the Exporters and the Ministry.
Stressing that the collaboration would create an enabling environment that would attract sustainability of their businesses to the extent that the Exporters, Farmers, and the State Government would give and receive value, Hon. Johnson Ebokpo explained that the strategic initiative aligns with the State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu’s unwavering commitment to revolutionizing the Agricultural Sector.
He went further to inform them of Policy support from the government which includes, the Introduction of a pre-registration form for all Exporters in the State to enable adequate planning and ensure compliance with operational guidelines for their businesses.
Other action plans mentioned by the Commissioner were:  Listing of farm access roads, State-wide digital soil mapping exercise, Development of an a6-year Strategic Plan for Cocoa, and opening of Cocoa Estates in six Local Government Areas of the State.
He concluded that adequate information from them concerning their activities especially in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility, will enable the government to streamline and mainstream intervention activities in various Communities of the State.
In separate submissions, Mcstephen Kembre of Tulip Cocoa Processing, Chibueze Aaron of Outspan Nigeria Limited (Olam), and others affirmed that their companies have been carrying out Corporate Social Responsibilities to the various host Communities and recounted verifiable project interventions covering areas of Infrastructure, income generation, agroforestry, and climate change.
They advocate the  Government’s support in the provision of logistics for the evacuation of their produce through Calabar Port, combating wrong practices in their business and multiple taxation.
To formalize the Collaboration between the Ministry and Cocoa Exporters for seamless cooperation and coordination the following resolutions were reached; that an all-inclusive reporting template be developed,  adoption of pre-registration form, there should be opening of files in the Ministry for Cocoa Exporters operating in the State, there should be a Sustainability Desk Officer in all Cocoa Exporting  Organizations in the State to work closely with the Ministry.
It was also resolved that  All Cocoa Exporters doing business in the State must own a warehouse for value addition and assurance of compliance with the Operational requirements especially but not limited to Corporate Social Responsibility.
Other Cocoa Exporting Organizations represented in the meeting were: AgroTraders Limited, Sunbeth Global Concept, AFEX Commodity Exchange Limited, and Starlink.

Amawu Cletus Albert Amawu

I'm a Journalist, Host/Producer of The Verdict, your voice of conscience on FAD FM 93.1, Calabar, Public Affairs Commentator, Social Change Agent.

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