NIGERIA – The southern state government of Nigeria, Cross River State has entered into a US$15m public private partnership with global cocoa producing company, Bean & Co. to establish a special cocoa city project in the state.

Bean & Co is owned by Israeli agribusiness firm, LR Group and manages large scale sustainable cocoa plantations worldwide in South America, Africa, Oceania & Asia and produces a wide range of cocoa products for distribution.

According to reports by Naira Metrics, the Memorandum of Understanding guiding the project execution was signed in February with the agreement penned on Wednesday June 10.

The Cross River Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Okon Owuna and the Director General of Cocoa Regeneration Agency, Mr Collins Ogar, signed the agreement on behalf of the state government while the Managing Partner, LR Group Bean & Co. Mr Doron Rette, signed on behalf of the company.

According to the agreement, the Cross River state government would cover 35% of the project cost, while Israeli Bean & Co would cover the remaining 65% to fund the project.

The project will entail establishment of an Agro Industrial Centre with a processing plant, seedlings nursery and training facility.

In addition it seeks the formation of a Farmers Out growers Scheme, which would cover 5,000 to 10,000 hectares of land.

Upon completion, the project is targeting to involve thousands of farmers to operate under the technical protocol of Bean & Co, who will buy all their products consisting of the pods and wet cocoa beans increasing their earning.

The reports have also indicated that there is a funding proposal in the agreement, which aims to provide credit facilities to help the farmers boost production.

Explaining the arrangement, Mr. Okon Owuna said, “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”.

Due to the long gestation period of cocoa, farmers will not be required to commence repayment of the loan until the fifth year when they would have commenced harvest.

The arrangement, according to Mr. Roy Yami, President of LR Group, presents a good investment opportunity for cocoa farmers in the state.

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