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 Nigerian firms need to start converting cocoa into chocolates — MAN

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Mansur Ahmed, an engineer and president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), has said that there is a need to deepen manufacturing sub- sectors to ensure that commodities like cocoa are converted into chocolates.

“There is a need to deepen the sub-sectors,” Ahmed said in an interview in Lagos.

“You produce cocoa, turn it into cocoa butter and export it. What you get from that cocoa butter, manufacturers of chocolate will make literally a thousand times more than you do,” he said.

Cocoa is Nigeria’s biggest non-oil export, occupying about 22 to 25 percent of the entire exports. Nigeria ranks joint fifth with neighbouring Cameroon in cocoa production, churning out 210, 000 metric tons in the 2016-2017 season, according to data from the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO).  Cadbury is the biggest chocolates/tea maker in Nigeria.

Ahmed said in leather and footwear industry, there is tremendous capacity which is not being fully exploited.

“We are stopping at the production of wet leather,” he said.

He explained that value addition is key to success in manufacturing.

“If you take the process from hides to finished leather and compare the value that is added from that finished leather to a pair of women’s handbags, the difference is huge,” he explained.

He further said that one of his goals is to work with the National Council and the government to ensure that manufacturers continue to grow the sector both in depth and scope through increase in value addition.

He stressed the need to constantly improve on the technology of manufacturers to grow output.

“It is not enough to have a factory; you must also watch what technology is doing to that factory,” he cautioned.

 “If you don’t update your technology, very soon your processes will become obsolete and therefore your products will not be competitive.”

He said Nigeria’s manufacturing sector must be supported to raise its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).

He pointed out that the manufacturing sectors of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa contribute double digit to the GDP while Nigeria’s remains single digit.

“Manufacturing sector contributes something in the range of 30 percent of their countries’ GDP. Now, here we are contributing less than nine percent. So clearly, we have a long way to go to raise the level of contribution of the sector to the GDP,” he added.

ODINAKA ANUDU

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