In a bid to address some challenges facing the Nigerian cocoa value chain, the Norwegian Investment Fund (NorFund) for developing countries, has announced a contribution of an investment of $12 million in OH Ecosystems Ltd (Eco). Fantastic Traders Nigeria limited (FTN) Cocoa Processors Plc, a Nigerian listed cocoa company, has just been bought by Eco, a company that develops and manages confectionery and cocoa processing businesses in Africa.
The intervention programme would also be addressing farmers’ poverty, which is one of the root causes of child and forced labour in the cocoa value chain. FTN Cocoa processors plc is a Nigeria-based agro allied company which sees to the processing of cocoa beans and cocoa commodities and exportation of cocoa cake, liquor, and butter to local manufacturing companies. The NorFund’s investment will support Eco to upgrade FTN’s operating facilities and extend its reach to produce and sell additional products into the cocoa supply chain. Before this investment, FTN which was incorporated in 1991, had been dormant and under-utilised for several years, according to reports.
An investment manager at NorFund, Obafemi Awobokun in a statement, said the investment would consequently create a large number of jobs that provides the fast-growing population of Nigeria an opportunity to work her way out of poverty. “NorFund’s investment will help create both technical and non-technical employment directly for 600 people and indirectly for more than 1,500 across the cocoa value chain”. This is a strategic alliance that comes through that will help FTN sew up her pursuit of conversion of cocoa beans, job creation and contribute to the economic diversification goals of the government, delivering value to stakeholders and actualising the vision of being a global player”, said the managing director of FTN, Akin Laoye. As part of the partnership, NorFund will support Eco’s efforts at establishing a sustainable supply chain through its farmer empowerment programme dubbed ‘EcoWise’, he added. The investment would no doubt contribute to the Nigerian government’s efforts to diversify export revenues by reducing its reliance on crude oil.