Hope rises for cocoa sector as NEXIM readies US$14m lifeline

NIGERIA – Nigeria may soon bounce back to cocoa processing, and ultimately improve its export value chain, as the House of Representatives has urged the Central Bank to speed up the dispute settlement between the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), and Multi-Trex.

Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) is planning N5billion(US$14million) credit facility to the company, as working capital under its Export Stimulation Facility (ESF), to enable it rev up cocoa processing in its two lines for domestic and export purposes.

The cocoa processing plant had been shut down for about five years over its credit facility from Skye Bank.

However, both AMCON and Multi-Trex have now reached an advanced level of agreement, awaiting a sign off by CBN on AMCON’s request to enable the company withdraw its only remaining court case and facilitate a new loan.

Addressing stakeholders over the weekend during the tour of the plant in Ogun State by the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency, its Chairman, Jones Onyereri, said, “It is obvious that the funds (earlier granted) were well utilised.

The challenges were beyond their control.

So, people like him and the stakeholders should be encouraged.

You also saw the machinery on ground, so we must encourage the private sector because that is the only way we can grow the economy.
If we don’t grow the real sector of the economy, then we are joking.

This bill about high interest rate we have to do away with it.”

On his part, the NEXIM Managing Director, Abba Bello, disclosed that discussions were almost finalised, only awaiting Multi-Trex’s terms of settlement with AMCON, as the company’s application is within ESF limit of N5billion(US$14million).

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“This is one of the best projects that we can support under the ESF because the equipment are there, this is just for working capital and it means that whatever we lend will be turning around may be 180 days maximum.

I am sure by the end of second quarter, we should be done,” said Bello.

Meanwhile, the company’s Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Dimeji Owofemi, disclosed that the two trains of the cocoa industry, which was established on July 1, 1987, could process 65,000 tonnes per year at full capacity, and given that a tonne of cocoa last season went as high as N1million(US$2800), the planned N5billion(US$14million) can only buy 5,000 tonnes.

The GuardianNigeria

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